Starting pitching continues to put the Phillies behind the eight-ball and late game heroics continue to bank one off the side railing at an astonishing rate.
The Phillies high-wire act cannot be good for the digestive system, especially their skipper's ample gut, but, then, this is April when the Phillies torment their faithful and themselves. If they can get the starters sorted out, and their are small signs and hints of progress, and if they can get Brad Lidge sorted out, here the signs are less reassuring, the Phils should be all right.
It's difficult to imagine how after sixteen games the Phils are right back where they started, even at eight wins and eight losses, but fortunately the rest of their division is equally average with the exception of the Marlins, who are coming back to the rest of the pack in a hurry, and the Nationals, who are already out of the chase.
After starting the season on an unbelievable tear, the Marlins have lost five straight including two heartbreakers to the Phils. In their case, the Marlins are getting very good starting pitching only to see their bullpen falter. The Phillies rotation seems to be getting better with each outing, but their propensity to serve up home run balls continues at a league high rate. Lidge's problems, which he claimed to have solved only this week when looking at film of his delivery, are harder to figure out. He has plenty of zip on his fastball, but he's having trouble with command. He seems to be using his slider less often, again with command and as previously noted here, the abscence of his favorite receiver, Carlos Ruiz. Lidge hasn't had many smooth outings this season and last nights, when he managed to load the bases and strike out the side for the save, has been more the rule than the exception.
The offense, while hardly overpowering, has come up with the clutch hits when they needed them. Winning in Miami is always tough, what with the obvious crowd noise [sic] to overcome, but the Phils have taken games one and two of this three-game set and go for the sweep this afternoon. The win would put them one-game over .500 for the year, rarified atmostphere indeed.