Phils explode for 8, light appears at end of the tunnel

from espn.com

by Alex Young

The Phillies West Coast road trip was not one to remember. They lost two out of three to the Giants, losing Cliff Lee to the DL in the process; they split with the Padres, losing two of four to what could be one of the worst offensive teams in the NL; and they got stomped in game one of their series against the Diamondbacks. Things looked pretty bleak for the Phillies. Things were getting ugly, and they were getting ugly fast.

On Tuesday, however, the Phillies came out punching against the D-Backs, racing out to a 7-1 lead before beating Arizona, 8-5. This came on the tail of 5-run ninth inning in Monday’s loss, and it put the Phils on their first official offensive hot-streak of the season.

It was the first showing of power for the Fightins as they smacked three balls deep into the desert night. Hunter Pence, Lance Nix and Shane Victorino all went yard for the Phils. It was Victorino’s fourth homer of the season, good enough to lead the team.

When the Phillies have had good offensive games this year, like last night and when they scored eight against the Mets, it’s like a huge exhale given their struggle to score in other games. You can back away from the ledge and remind yourself that this team can still win. Their hitting problems are by no means solved, but a hot streak could be just what they need to turn things around at the plate.

We also received some other great news yesterday when Ruben Amaro announced that Ryan Howard’s wound is starting to heal and he could resume baseball activities in a week.

It was easy to take his abilities for granted in the past, but the Phils’ offensive woes simply highlight how important he is to this team. Do you want him to hit more and strike out less? Absolutely. He can be the most frustrating player at times, but the Big Piece can flat-out drive in runs. He is a true clean-up hitter, the kind of player this lineup desperately needs.

Inserting Howard into the fourth spot in the order allows everyone else to move to roles they are more comfortable in, most noticeable of which is Hunter Pence. Pence is much better suited to bat fifth where his good-but-not-great power can provide protection for a true clean-up hitter like Howard.

Having Howard at fourth also means that Jimmy Rollins won’t have to worry as much about knocking in runs and will allow him to concentrate on getting on base more. He could bring more aspects of his much preferred leadoff spot to the three-hole, and hopefully lifting him out of his current slump.

An 8-10 record may not be the start The Phillies wanted or even expected, but 18  games does not a season make. A little confidence can be all it takes to end a drought and put crooked numbers on the board.

Comments
One Response to “Phils explode for 8, light appears at end of the tunnel”
  1. Steven Jeffries says:

    The Phillies have been bit hard by the injury bug from the Spring. But they have a winning attitude and as they get well, they’ll be back.

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