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Good news for the Phillies this past week, as they took two games apiece from the two best teams the NL Central has to offer - the Cardinals and the Cubs. This, after starting July by ripping the reeling Mets, taking three of four from Cincinnati, pummeling the triple A Pirates and throwing the Marlins back to sea. Oh, and they also scored a win against the hapless and Jake Peavy-full (how ya likin' Philadelphia now?) Padres.
Prior to the Cubs and St. Louis wins, Philadelphia sports radio and my fellow fans were quick to tell me that the Phils weren't beating anybody and haven't really been tested yet. So they go out and clobber the Cubs 10-1 behind a strong 6-inning outing from Rodrigo Lopez, who is 3-0 with a 2.60 ERA, but more importantly than that, is enjoying a ridiculous amount of run support. Including the 14-6 pasting of the not-as-impressive-as-I-was-told-they-were Cardinals, Lopez has enjoyed a 31-9 edge in runs scored in his three wins.
The guy who is quickly becoming my favorite Phils pitcher, Joe Blanton, pitched 7 innings of 1-run baseball against the Cubs in a game the Phils eventually won in 13 innings on a Jayson Werth 3-run walk-off homer. He then followed this up with an 8-inning gem against the Cardinals (limiting the 3-4-5 hitters to 2-for-10 in the game), scattering seven hits and surrendering only two earned runs. Blanton's last four outings have all been at least seven innings, and have resulted in three wins, four earned runs and much-needed relief for a well used Phillies bullpen.
Unfortunately, Jamie Moyer has not fared as well. His last four starts have been uneven to say the least. He's 3-1 over that span, but he surrendered 1, 6, 0 and 4 earned runs and 22 hits in those games. His ERA is well north of five and he is routinely only getting five or six innings into games. He pitches tomorrow against the Diamondbacks, so we'll see where he is after that. If the every other game thing holds, he should throw a good game.
Cole Hamels is the most disconcerting pitcher on the Phils staff. He, Like Moyer, has been up and down and all over the place. He's 2-1 over the past five games, but he's been so inconsistent, it's hard to imagine he's the Phillies ace pitcher. His ERA has been dropping lately, and he's on the good side of a Moyer-like every other game rhythm, so I am hoping to see something more like 2008 Hamels and less like the 2009 edition.
And finally, no discussion of Phillies pitching would be complete without a mention of J.A. Happ. Here's a guy who is 7-1 and gets no respect from the Philly radio stations. Would-be sports talk show host Mike Missanelli has dismissed Happ, saying that he hasn't beaten anybody. Whatever - Happ has pitched well in July, Earning two wins and having pitched well enough in two other games to have earned two more wins (3 and 2 earned runs, both in seven innings of work).
Why All The Talk About Phillies Pitching?
Roy Halladay, of course. It's plain to even the most ardent Phillies fan that they could surely use a legit #1 starting pitcher like Halladay. Unfortunately, the Blue Jays have rejected a 4-for-1 offer from the Phils that included Happ and prospects Michael Taylor, Carlos Carrasco and Jason Donald. Even though I would prefer that the Phillies not let Happ go, it would be foolish to not make an offer. I'm also leery of an offer that would include both Kyle Drabek and Happ, so I am glad that the Phils also seem unwilling to part with both.
Like a lot of Phillies fans, the aforementioned Missanelli dismisses any and all talk that does not result in Halladay coming to Philadelphia. It seems that he'd be fine with giving Toronto Happ, Drabek, Taylor, Carrasco and Donald. I am not so comfortable with that. But maybe I shouldn't be so worried. The Phils have a deep farm system now, and they've drafted fairly well in recent times. Perhaps they could make this trade, go for that 2nd consecutive World Series win and everybody would love them for making such a bold move. Halladay in Philly. Sounds great - but is it too high a cost? I'm glad I don't have to make this call.
The Sad Truth In Philadelphia
Mike Missanelli is the #1 sports radio show host for the evening drive time in Philly. To fully appreciate how sad this truly is, you'd need to understand how bad his competition, Howard Eskin, is. Eskin's had it pretty good in Philly for quite some time, being the default sports personality in this town. It's pretty sad, because he's as lame, if not lamer, than Missanelli. Anyone who wonders why Philly fans can sometimes be so aggressive, moody and somewhat belligerent need look no further than the state of Philly sports radio to know why that is. And don't even get me started about Angelo Cataldi and how sad and annoying his mind-numbing morning show is. Take my word for it...it's bad.
Why Bother Doing A Proper Representation?
Really - why bother with facts when you can just generalize and make up crap? This, apparently, is the approach that Philadelphia Daily News columnist Stu Bykofsky took for his July 23rd 'column'. It includes such 'factual' and 'professional' content as " I DON'T have a blog. If I did blog, this is what it would be like. (To make it seem like a real blog, I'll include typos and factual errors.) " I guess I shouldn't be surprised that unwarranted attacks on blogs would continue as newspapers shut down and readership drops. Seriously, why would I think that a guy who's been a columnist for 22 years would bother with professionalism? Stupid generalizations are so much easier to write. IMHO.
Resources: ESPN and philly.com