Monday, September 17, 2007

And The Answer Is....?

Hold those reservations for tee times, they've done it again.

The team that made eleventh hour pushes for October the official time of the realm just completed their second sweep of the division-leading Mets in a fortnight to creep to within 1.5 games of the Wild Card lead. As usual, they did it in dramatic fashion, riding the pinch-hit grand slam home run of Greg Dobbs to a 10-6 victory at Shea Stadium. In the process the Phils overcame another rotten start by Adam Eaton to also post their major league leading 45th come-from-behind victory of 2007.

Dobbs had plenty of company this weekend, not the least of whom were Aaron Rowand and Jimmy Rollins. As far as Mets' fans are concerned, Rollins wore a scarlet letter on his back all season after proclaiming prior to the start of play the Phils were "the team to beat" in the NL East. Then, of course, he backed up his words, at least in head-to-head play, by leading the Phils to a season series victory including seven straight (four at Citizens Bank Park and three in New York) and three sweeps, two at Shea. If the Phillies fall short in their quest for a post-season berth no one will be more disappointed than J-Roll, their leader and catalyst. If they break their fourteen year post-season drought, Jimmy would get serious consideration as the league's MVP.

It's impossible to watch this team and not wonder what might have been with decent starting pitching. Heck, we are left to wonder what it might have been with healthy starting pitching! The reality is their pitching woes don't begin and end in the first few innings. A shaky bullpen from April on has also undermined their potent offense. There appears to be little doubt 2007 will be the last chance for this particular group to make it to the playoffs, as Aaron Rowand seems destined to depart via free agency. Rowand might have been tempted to remain if the prospects for improvement in the starting rotation were better, but no obvious help is on the horizon.

With thirteen games remaining, six against the Nationals, who always play the Phillies tough, there is plenty of opportunity if not time to make up ground on both San Diego and New York. As this past weekend demonstrated, the Phils hitters can go into a hostile climate and remain focused. Can their pitching staff do the same? That's been the question all along. The answer will appear shortly.


David said...

Not to be a party pooper (moi?) but without some serious help from their opponents it is doubtful that the Phillies could have won more than one of those games this weekend. I foresee them going 8-5 and finishing 2 games out of the WC, 5 behind NY. "Heart" can only overcome so much.

That prediction is only mildly tempered by caution. At very best, they go 9-4 and finish 1 game out!

Tom Goodman said...

Neither my heart nor my head says a team with such horrible pitching can make it to the playoffs, but stranger things have happened.

David said...

They have indeed, but not around these parts...

Even if they make it, I don't feel I'll have to defend my profound doubt all the while. It's been well-earned.