So a lot of preseason talk focused on the Philadelphia Phillies and their questionable pitching, with lots of noise raised for both the starting pitching and the bullpen.

Now after a split with the Cincinnati Reds, the Phillies (3-4) have made it through April looking better than they have in years past. Here's hoping this trend continues.

Before getting to the Reds series, I'd like to revisit the last game against the Washington Nationals. Jamie Moyer, considered a stabalizing force of the staff, gave up six runs over 3 2/3 innings in an 8-7 win over the Nats. The bullpen did fine in that game, using six pitchers over the final 6 1/3 innings and giving up only one run. The bad news: 14 LOB.

As for the Reds, the Phils earned a 2-2 series split, which is actually a pretty good result, considering that after Sunday, I would not have been surprised with the Reds taking three games.

The first matchup, Friday's 8-4 win, featured a two-homer effort from Chase Utley, but that was mitigated by pitcher Kyle Kendrick's four earned run performance. The LOB number was back to decent levels, as the Phils only registered five in that category.

Saturday's 4-3 loss wasn't all bad - Ryan Howard cracked his first homer and much maligned Adam Eaton threw 7 2/3 innings of 3-run baseball, definitely good enough to win with this lineup, and possibly a ray of hope for that guy? Philly fans can hope! Unfortunately, Chad Durbin gave up a run in the bottom of the ninth and absorbed the loss. LOB: 6. Still not bad.

Sunday's 8-2 loss was just as bad as it sounds. Brett Myers and Clay Condrey combined to surrender four runs and 12 hits to the Reds. A positive: Brad Lidge worked a scoreless, hitless 8th inning. LOB: 7. Again not bad.

Monday's 5-3 win was a classic Phillies performance: Homers in the first inning by Jimmy Rollins and Pat Burrell staked the Phils to an early lead, and two more homers in 3rd inning from Burrell (.435 average?? contract year) again and Geoff Jenkins sealed the deal. Cole Hamels pitched the kind of game the Phillies desperately need: 7 innings, 5 hits and 2 runs. Tom Gordon managed to pitch a hitless 8th and Brad Lidge closed it out, but gave up a run while earning his first save as a Phillie. LOB: 7.

All in all, not a bad series. The win in the last game gives me hope for the Mets series. This ought to be a good one, especially as the Mets are coming off consecutive losses to the Braves.

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SJ's NL East Rambings: Who saw this coming? Florida leads the division with a 4-3 record, followed by the Braves & Phillies at 3-4. And after all the talk, there sit the Mets in 4th place with a 2-3 record. Big series on tap between the Mets & Phils.

Originally Posted on on April 7th.

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