Apart from the loss on Sunday, their second in as many tries against Tim Linsecum, the Phillies have been on quite a roll. Ten wins in their last eleven games, seven of eight on the road out West. They hold an 8.5 game lead over second-place Atlanta. Theirs is the best record in baseball. They've been hitting lately.
So, why am I worried?
Roy Halladay has not looked sharp lately. He may have earned his league-leading fifteenth victory last night and lowered his ERA to 2.51, but he's been giving up a ton of hits lately and then working out of jams. Living on the edge can be nerve-wracking, especially to fans like me who don't need much encouragement to begin trembling.
The bullpen remains a work in progress. The return of Brad Lidge has not brought any comfort. Indeed, Lidge is probably playing out his last season in red pinstripes. His velocity is down and has never returned. His slider doesn't have the bite it did earlier. He throws an inordinate number of balls in the dirt, sometimes with disastrous results that only the always-superb Carlos Ruiz manages to control.
Michael Stutes and Antonio Bastardo have been remarkable, but they are young and relatively inexperienced. Stutes hasn't been as sharp lately; Bastardo yielded a quick home run in San Francisco.
In the starting rotation, Roy Oswalt has returned from a long hiatus. He gave up twelve hits in six innings Sunday, many of them of the bloop variety. His velocity was good and he didn't tire despite the long layoff. However, his fastball looked to have minimum movement on it. True, he was squeezed a few times by the home plate umpire, who wasn't giving anyone the outside pitch that day. Still, Oswalt didn't look like the Oswalt of old. It remains to be seen if he will return to form.
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Shane Victorino was the only participant in Friday night's "brawl" to receive a suspension. Let's see: a guy is deliberately hit in the back, reacts as one would expect, and is the only player to receive a fine AND suspension. Ridiculous, of course, but that's baseball justice, inexplicable, incoherent and inescapable.