Thursday, July 29, 2010

Going for the jinx

It's official: the Phillies starting rotation now touts a Roy double feature, and the rest of the National League has to be squirming in their seats over the power shift. Roy Oswalt finally decided that he wanted to experience the bi-polar, battery-throwing bonanza that will surround the elevated stage of the pitcher's mound at Citizens Bank Park. He wants to devour a cheesesteak and sprint like a mad man up the steps of the Art Museum. More than anything, he wants to ride that victory float down South Street in November and help the City of Brotherly Love celebrate its second championship in three years. I salute you, Mr. Oswalt, and I pray your sensitive back handles the stress because with J.A. Happ bravely trying to fill your shoes in Houston, the Phillies have left themselves few options if you or one of the other starters goes down before the end of the season. But don't pay attention to me, that's just my hometown pessimism shining through. Welcome to Philadelphia.

That's just how it happens. The middle of the order had stirred from its two-month slumber, but the canons didn't go off tonight against the Diamondbacks. But with the Phillies winning like they are, it was the little guys who stepped up to keep the streak going. Carlos Ruiz and Wilson Valdez went 5-for-10 with two RBI out of the 7- and 8-holes, and Valdez played hero in another extra-inning thriller that pulled the team within 2.5 games of first place. In their last five extra-inning contests, the Phils have won them all in walk-off fashion.

The red-pinstriped boys also went 7-0 on their homestand. As they've proven time and time again, when the weather gets warm in Philadelphia, there's no place they'd rather play.

Never put it past me to be cynical, though. The Phillies are hitting a rather light part of the schedule. We thought they might have been back during Interleague Play, but that was when they took five out of six from Toronto and Cleveland. All six of those games were played at Citizens Bank Park. The results were turned on their head when the Phillies played bad teams on the road (2-6 at Pittsburgh and Chicago). Things seem different now that Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez are hitting, and Domonic Brown has made an immediate impression, but the next three series (two on the road and all against NL East opponents) will give us a better idea of just where the team stands.

For now, I will risk the jinx and say that the Phillies are back!

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