Seven Thoughts for Seven Games

14 Apr

Well, the baseball season is underway. and after seven games the Phillies sport a record of 3-4 which doesn’t look so bad when you remember they had a 1-3 start.  As the cliche says, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint” but there are some interesting things to be learned from the opening leg of the race.  So here are my seven thoughts for seven games.

 1.  Who’s on first?  Apparently everybody.  In the first seven games the Phillies have used no less than four different first basemen (Wigginton, Nix, Thome and Mayberry.) And manager Charlie Manuel has trotted out six different line-ups.  It has been a long time for this team since players crowded around the line-up card looking for their name.  While I understand that Manuel was trying to scare up some offense, at some point you need to field a line-up and stick with it, at least for more than two games.

 2.  If you checked the box score for the last two games, you might think that the pitchers names were reversed, that Lee pitched in his normal slot following Halladay and Blanton was on the hill last night.  But not so fast.  Big Joe Blanton (looking not quite so big to this fan’s eyes, by the way) pitched a strong seven innings Thursday night in the Phillies win against the Marlins allowing just one run and three hits in seven innings.  Even more impressive was that it was his first start since May 14th of last year

 3.  On the other hand, so far Cliff Lee is starting this season the same way he started (and ended, sorry about that) last year.  After a tough first inning last night where he gave up three runs, Lee did find his groove, at one point retiring nine Mets in a row.  In fact, he only allowed two baserunners after that first inning  but a couple of bad pitches ended up costing the Phils lefty and the Phillies couldn’t get the big hit when they needed it going 0-8 with runners in scoring position.  But to use another favored cliche, “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”  Right?

 4.  I don’t think anyone would have predicted that it would be chants of “Freddy!  Freddy!  Freddy!” that would be replacing the “Rauuuuul’s” of old.  But Freddy Galvis, the diminutive shortstop turned second baseman due to the extended absence of Chase Utley, has quickly become a fan favorite.  Not only has he flashed some leather at second, after an 0-12 start he has contributed some timely hitting.  Last night, he hit his first major league home run giving him 5 RBI for the season, which leads the team.  Freddy Galvis leading the team in RBI?  Who woulda thunk?

 5.  It looks like Jonathan Papelbon will be fun to watch this season.  He got his first save in Citizen’s Bank Park Thursday night punctuated with a big pump of his fist.  That gives him two saves in two opportunities so far and with Ryan Madson sadly out for the year, and the Red Sox, not so sadly, scrambling to find someone who can close out games it looks like Ruben Amaro made the right move again.  Let’s hope there are more fist pumps to come from the Phils new closer.

 6.  The team offense seems to be slowly coming around.  Even in last night’s loss they ground out 11 hits.  Rollins leads the team with 10 hits which is nice to see after he signed his big deal in the of -season, Pence has 9, Victorino has 8.  That ‘s a good sign since those are the guys who will have to pick up the slack until Utley and Howard return.

 7.  It was announced last week that Pat “the Bat” Burrell would end his career where he started it, with the Phillies.  He will sign a one-day deal with the club and officially retire as a Phillie on May 19th during the Phils/Red Sox series.  But if you’re like me, you might want to grab a tissue for this story of his last real game with the San Francisco Giants.

Burrell had decided after spending much of the 2011 season on the DL with bone spurs in his right foot, that this would be his last season so he asked Giants manager Bruce Bochy for a favor, to start him one last time.  Bochy wrote his name into the lineup card, playing left field and batting cleanup.  As Burrell was emotionally preparing for his last major league start Giants third-base coach Tim Flannery walked up to him and handed him something. It was the circular patch with “VUK” stitched on it that the Phillies wore during the 2007 season in memory of their beloved coach John Vukovich.

 “Put it in your pocket and play with Vuk today,” Flannery told him.

That pushed the already emotional Burrell over the edge: “I think I started crying right there.”

Burrell slipped the patch into the back pocket of his uniform pants and lined a single to left his first time up.  In the top of the seventh, Bochy had Burrell take his position then called him off the field. He got a standing ovation as he trotted back to the dugout and came out for a curtain call as well.

And on May 19th, Pat the Bat will take his final curtain call as a Phillie.  (You better save some of those tissues.)

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3 Responses to “Seven Thoughts for Seven Games”

  1. Michael Gillen April 14, 2012 at 2:30 pm #

    Such good, witty and informative baseball commentary, Susan! Hey, if I keep reading these I might even become a Phillies fan!

    • girlsbestphriend April 15, 2012 at 1:52 am #

      Hey, thanks, Michael. Not as exciting as your crazy road trip, though. Be careful out there!

  2. Ray April 15, 2012 at 2:05 am #

    Susan,

    A bad couple of days…hopefully we get it back on track….and against the Mets….sigh!!!

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