Saturday, July 17, 2010

Howard hot in 2nd half, Phils not

Each of the last three seasons, when the Phillies captured the NL East title, they did so in the second-half. They have been one of the best second-half teams in Major League Baseball each of the last few seasons. After a disappointing inconsistent first half, the Phillies look to once again, get hot and propel themselves to another postseason run. They are not off to a great start.

Kicking things off against a struggling Chicago Cubs squad, Ryan Howard opened game one with a first inning two-run bomb; getting off to a great second half start and giving the Phils a lead. Jamie Moyer quickly squandered the lead, allowing six runs in just three innings in a 12-6 loss. It's Moyer's second consecutive bad outing, after he allowed seven runs in 5.1 innings to the Braves on July 7th. His ERA rose from 4.13 to 4.88 over that two game span. Howard finished game one 3-5 with a pair of long two-run homers.

Yesterday's 4-3 loss was especially tough to take. Joe Blanton was off to a great start, clinging to a 1-0 lead in the 5th. Things began to unravel when he walked opposing pitcher Ted Lilly with the bases loaded to tie the game. Ryan Howard hit yet another two-run blast in the 6th but former Phil Marlon Byrd responded with a two-run jack in the bottom of the 6th off Blanton, tying the score again. Aramis Ramirez's solo shot in the 8th off Ryan Madson proved to be the game winner as the Phillies once again blew a game and failed to comeback.

Ryan Madson's disappointing season continues as his ERA stands at 6.57. He remains a key part to this team's success. The team certainly hopes he returns to his previous dominant form soon. They need it.

The Phillies need a shake-up. If they continue to wait for Raul Ibanez to produce, the waiting won't end until his contract expires. We've all seen it before; overpaid players struggling, but still finding his way into the lineup daily; David Bell come to mind? If the Phillies aren't going to acquire another bat that can produce, they should promote Domonic Brown and put him in the lineup every day. Ibanez would not a nice left-handed bat off the bench, albeit an expensive one. Brown has been great at every level of the minors and could very well help this team.

Hopefully Cole Hamels gets the Phils back on track today; giving the Phils hope of a split with Roy Halladay on the mound tomorrow.

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