Go figure...because I can't.
Three days after good pitching (San Diego's) beat good hitting (Philadelphia's), the Phillies turned around and took three straight from the Padres at Petco Park to finish their western road trip at 4-3. Who knows which team is going to show up at home when the Phils host Washington beginning tomorrow.
A few weeks ago I predicted Ryan Howard's average was going to rise. He was looking more comfortable at the plate, literally, his crouch a little lower, his extension of one hand holding the bat held a little longer. Howard has raised his average to .279, and he did so against two very good pitching staffs. Not only is he among the league leaders in home runs and rbi's, he's getting hot in the clutch as the weather gets hotter and crunch time gets crunchier.
Meanwhile, Chase Utley not only continues to lead virtually every hitting category in the NL, he's also looking more impressive in the field with each passing day. Utley is particularly strong going to his right for balls hit up the middle and if he's playing back on the grass he is especially adept at sliding for balls hit to either side, popping up and nipping the runner at first base. Hitting. Fielding. Running the bases. In short, Utley makes watching baseball fun.
And what can we say that we haven't already gushed about J-Roll? He's hitting for average and power, scoring nearly a run a game and still fielding with the best of them. If the Phillies ever sign a leading third baseman they will put the best foursome ever assembled on the field every night.
So, who was the hero of this road trip? J.D. Durbin gets my nod. Fifteen innings pitched. One earned run. Two victories. One bullpen saved. Who'd have thunk it? Here's a guy with his fourth team this year, who was crushed in his first appearance as a dire emergency starter, who was probably pitching because, frankly, the Phillies didn't have any other options, and he wins two games on the road on the West Coast. Durbin has moved around so much this year alone he probably doesn't know the difference between a home and away game, but no matter. He stepped up very big time. Ain't the beer cold!