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In the Phillies four most recent wins, they’ve scored 12, 7, 15 and 20 runs. They won't keep up this pace, but I think it’s safe to say that the Phillies offense is starting to gel.
It all starts with the big three. Reigning MVP Jimmy Rollins has returned to full strength as one of the league’s most dangerous leadoff hitters, batting .319, stealing bases, playing great defense and providing leadership in the clubhouse. Chase Utley has rebounded from his mini-slump to get his numbers back to MVP levels (.309 BA, 16 HR, 42 RBI), although Lance Berkman gets the nod at this point. Ryan Howard’s batting average is still hovering around the Mendoza line (.207) and with 75 strikeouts, he’ll likely obliterate his own single season record. Amazingly, he has managed to join the league leaders with 14 home runs and 37 RBI.
Pat Burrell is hitting home runs when they count and continues to play himself into a hefty free agent payday. Offseason upgrades Pedro Feliz and Geoff Jenkins have rebounded from slow starts to post solid numbers. Shane Victorino has recovered from his injury and boosted his average to .273 while stealing nine bases to make the temporary loss of Jayson Werth manageable. The only regular who isn’t hitting right now is Carlos Ruiz, but “backup” Chris Coste is mashing to the tune of .342 and four dingers in part-time duty. Greg Dobbs is batting .358 and has become one of league’s premier pinch hitters.
Phillies starting pitching continues to be a concern, but the offense is giving pitchers time to work out the kinks and the bullpen has been brilliant. Note to Pat Gillick… please don’t let Brad Lidge become a free agent. Lights out closers don’t come along everyday and Lidge is better than Brett Myers at closing out games.
Meanwhile, the Mets continue to prove that they’re overrated. Before the season, I said the Mets were old and brittle. Carlos Delgado and Luis Castillo are clearly acting old. Pedro Martinez, Orlando Hernandez and Moises Alou are clearly brittle. Jose Reyes is clearly a diva who is easily distracted. I like this team less and less everyday. I do feel bad for Willie Randolph, who has become the scapegoat.
Right now, the Phillies are hummin’ like James Bond’s Aston Martin, while the Mets are sputtering like Dwight Schrute’s Camaro and bickering like old ladies playing a high stakes game of canasta. Hate to say “I told you so,” but…