Well, why can't the Phillies hit this well in every game? Even scoring 4-5 runs per game than the 10-per-game-average this weekend would be nice! After Kendrick gave up a three-run homer in the 1st inning Friday, he settled down nicely - 6 scoreless innings and a stretch in which he retired 15 straight - but the offense gave him no runs. It was more of the same for the season: 0-8 w/ RISP & 9 LOB. And it looked like a similar story on Saturday: Cole Hamels gave up an RBI Fielder's Choice Groundout in the 1st & the offense threatened in the bottom of the 1st but failed to score the runner from third. But then came the fourth inning: six runs scored on a 2-run 2B by Cody Asche, a 2-run shot by Dom Brown, and RBI singles by Carlos Ruiz & Chase Utley. And the scoring didn't stop there: five runs scored in the 7th inning & then Cesar Hernandez hit his 1st career HR in the 8th. Cole Hamels went six scoreless innings, including an immaculate (3 Ks, 9 pitches) 3rd, after the 23-pitch first to earn his 100th career victory & first since 9/14. Congrats, Cole & Cesar! On Sunday, 1st-inning woes continued for the starters: this time it was Lee allowing the Reds' 5th and 6th 1st inning runs of the series (six runs in three first innings for an 18.00 ERA). However, there was no worrying wait for Lee... Rollins hit his 46th career lead-off HR & Nieves followed with a solo shot in the next AB. Lee went 6 scoreless innings & the offense scored six more runs (four on HRs by Byrd & Asche) to win the game and series. What a weekend!
Ryne Sandberg had a different line-up this weekend. Ben Revere was out with a stomach bug and Rollins hit lead-off for the first time this season. Revere has a .284 OBP vs. Rollins' .369 OBP in the two-hole. Sandberg wouldn't say whether Rollins would bat lead-off if Revere was in but he did say a change was needed. Revere was not only costing the team runs with the bat, but he had some rough games in center. He is doing better & should be ready to play again tomorrow (they have off today & head to Miami tonight). Another change: Asche went from batting 8th to 6th. After hitting .200/.284/.300 in April, he's hitting .333 w/ a .418 OBP, 3 HR & 5 2B in 14 May games. Brown is also producing after being moved down to 7th from batting 6th. And the catchers have moved to the two-hole after batting 7th for most of the year.
Defense had a bump in the road last few weeks, with Revere being the main culprit and Asche's three-error night also a problem. Revere's days off should give him a fresh start. And according to Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com & PhilliesNation TV, Asche responded well to a chat with Hall-of-Fame 3B Mike Schmidt.
The bullpen did well, too: 6.1 innings and one run (by Mike Adams on Sunday). I'm hopeful they also turned a corner but Sandberg is over-relying on four of the relievers & had the opportunity (by lots of off-days) to use Roberto Hernandez in there. It's time for Sandberg to make a change there by using Luis Garcia more - perhaps the 6th or 7th inning. I don't think Garcia has appeared in more than two games since his call-up from AAA!
We're 41 games (or 25%) into the season and the "it's-too-early-in-the-season" excuses are done. Let's hope the Phillies can excel in the 2nd quarter of 2014 as the margin of error narrows and the trade deadline nears. Right now, the whole team is off to a great start, but it gets tricky: 55 games in 56 days coming up! I'll have updates periodically.