Before I start about the Phillies, Dan Uggla has a 30 game hitting streak. It’s boosted his average to .220. Wrap your head around that. In related news, Adam Dunn is up to .165.
The Phillies close out a 10-game road trip this afternoon against the Dodgers. If the Phils can finish off the sweep they’d cap a 9-1 run over a stretch of games that most fans probably would have taken 5-5 as recently as a couple of months ago. But, the Phillies are playing so well right now, that it’s hard to imagine them playing .500 for any stretch longer than two games. They’ve lost back-to-back games once since June and after that second straight loss, they’ve gone 11-1.
Today’s game is the kind of situation that would make you nervous on a football schedule. You’d be hearing a lot of, “it’s a bad spot.” It’s getaway day. The Phillies are off tomorrow. The difference between an 8-2 trip and a 9-1 trip doesn’t seem too significant. It’s the last game in a stretch of 20 in a row. It’d be hard to blame the Phillies if they had one eye toward tomorrow’s off day, but it’s hard to predict losses for this team right now. Things are just going their way. Cliff Lee’s 2nd bomb of the year (tying him with Michael Martinez) last night was the latest sign of that. Plus, Worley is pitching.
Charlie Manuel said this week that Antonio Bastardo has been his most pleasant surprise of the season, but I’d have to think Worley is at least in the discussion. Perhaps the bullpen was a more dire need for this team, especially when guys started going down, but the Phillies would have been lost without Worley. Especially when he and Kendrick were both in the rotation. There was no more depth after that. You’d have been trolling Reading. When Worley started sluggishly against the Giants I was a bit concerned. He was coming off a mediocre start against Pittsburgh, and you have to expect at some point that ERA is going to creep north of 3.00. But, he steadied himself, the Phillies put up a bunch of runs for him, and he moved to 8-1. Does he get win number nine today?
So, what’s the latest fodder for the worriers? I’d probably say first would be Placido Polanco’s health. You don’t have a good feeling about him playing the rest of the season. And, that means you likely don’t have a good feeling about Wilson and Valdez or Michael Martinez batting 8th come playoff time. If Polanco is out for an extended period, the options are limited outside of the organization. Third base is a thin talent pool across the league. I heard people kicking around the name, Pedro Feliz yesterday. Yes, the same Pedro Feliz we had in Philadelphia. He was playing for the unaffiliated Camden Riversharks and doing all right, but he’s literally just this minute been signed by San Diego. There goes another plan-B out the window.
I suppose the other concern would be the prospect of facing San Francisco in the divisional series? The big, bad Giants. Well, their recent swoon has given them the worst record of any division leader, which means if things started right now, they’d be coming to Philly. Against any team, and especially any team with good pitching, the Phillies are better off the longer the series. But it’s too early to be playing, “if the playoffs started today.” The Giants are essentially tied in their division with the Diamondbacks. For all we know they might have to start Lincecum on the final day of the season and Cain in a 1-day playoff. So then with Bumgarner and Sanchez going in games 1&2, suddenly that’s a sweet match-up for the Phillies. But, as always, root for the Giants to lose every day.