Home field advantage??
Slice of a Season: 2009, Slice 7
Slice Record: 4-5
Cumulative Record: 36-27
Standing at Slice's End: 3 games ahead of the Mets
Opponents that hurt the Phillies: Red Sox, Blue Jays
Opponents that helped the Phillies: Mets
Wins to Remember: Defeating the Dodgers and ex-Phillie Randy Wold 7-2 on June 7,Defeating the Mets 5-4 in 11 on June 10th and again in extra innings 6-3 on June 12th.
Losses to spill milk over: extra inning losses abound:5-2 against Boston on June 12th and 8-3 against Toronto on June 16th
Interesting stat: The Phillies have a .249 Avg at home and only 41 HR compared to .273 AVG away with 51 HRs.
Bats do help in general: When facing Scott Richmond and Jon Lester
Old Nemesis Sighting: Mike Lowell
Ex-Phillie Haunting Spotted: Was that the ghost of Scott Rolen, circa 2001? and Rod Barajas...really?
Johan Santana is not invincible, the Phillies showed the world: 4 HR in Citi Field says so
For want of a lefty the inning was lost, for lack of a consistent bullpen, the game was lost: To Scott Eyre and Brad Lidge...come back and pitch well.
Welcome to the team: Paul Bako and Tyler Walker
A low outside breaking ball is not the ideal pitch to swing at: Ryan Howard
The team needs an infusion of: The Bull's BBQ at home; they need some fire.
Suprising success story with a small sample size:: Chan Ho Park
Hitting Heroes: Jayson Werth, Pedro Feliz, Chase Utley
Need Adjustments: Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Greg Dobbs and other benchmates
Fire Starters on the Mound: Jack Taschner,Clay Condrey, Chad Durbin, Jaime Moyer
Holding the Fort Down: Ryan Madson (mostly), Joe Blanton, Cole Hamels
I'm too frustrated right now to write a full summary (this is why I should write these on time, when it doesn't look as bad for the Phillies). They may be in first place, but there is something intangible missing beyond the statistics. It's not complacency or a lack of resilience...more a lack of focus that causes errors of omission rather than commission. The prime example was when Marco Scutaro of the Blue Jays ended up on second after a walk....no one paid attention to him running? Not even the dugout?
The hitting is robust, but not sustainable unless there is a change in execution. They have a less than .200 AVG with runners in scoring position over the last 10 days. Losing Raul Ibanez has left the outfield short both a great hitter (so far) and a decent glove. Even if Ibanez regressed to his career averages for the remainder of the season, he would be an improvement over John Mayberry (too inexperienced) or Matt Stairs (can't handle everyday in his age and condition). Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins need to re-think their approaches; that's the only nice way to say it.
In the long run, the lack of viable starters can be the downfall. Antonio Bastardo is nice as a stop gap, but probably can only throw 120-140 innings before wearing down. The summer heat may also affect J.A. Happ. Joe Blanton continues to improve upon his numbers. The bullpen is useless right now, can't hold leads or deficits even. Losing Scott Eyre was worse than losing Brad Lidge. It's clear Clay Condrey and Chad Durbin are starting to wear out. Jack Taschner has not been a net positive addition, and JC Romero is still working out the post-suspension kinks.... Oh, and in general, stop walking lead off hitters everyone.
Ok, deep breath, still in first, it's time to regroup...the rest of the Toronto series, followed by Baltimore and more interleague intrigue. Let's look forward now.