Now THAT was more like it.
The last time Cole Hamels had a shaky outing (June 26 against Toronto) his team scored just one run for him. Tonight, the hitters kept on battling as the lead bounced back and forth.
The Phillies scored multiple runs in four different innings, and a potent, but impatient Diamondbacks lineup couldn't keep up. And the 3-5 hitters in Philadelphia's order, the constant source of scrutiny and frustration since late May? They went 6-for-11 with two bombs, six RBI and five runs scored. Please sir, can I have some more?
Jayson Werth finally went yard again, and you can expect some more of that in the near future. His jacks always come in bunches, and his signature blast is the one that lands in the center field vines at Citizens Bank Park. Raul Ibanez is working on a six-game hitting streak, batting .429 (9-for-21) in the span. He's also driven in at least one run in his last four starts. The 3-hole seems to be agreeing with him.
A 3-0 loss to the Strasburg-less Nationals can't be a good sign for the Braves, as their seven-game lead in the NL East has been chopped in half in less than a week. It's looking more and more like the Phillies will be nothing but spectators as the Trade Deadline nears, so they can't let up.
In the midst of all this success, Philly lost another key piece for at least a few days as Shane Victorino left in the seventh inning with an oblique muscle strain. The way things have been going, I was waiting for the next starter to go down, and I'm not surprised it's Victorino. He made trips to the DL in 2007 and '08 after constantly pushing his small frame to the limit with his blazing speed in the outfield and around the bases. A warning light goes off in my head whenever I hear about an oblique injury. I didn't even know what an oblique muscle was until 2006 when Albert Pujols was sidelined for a month with an injury to his, ending what would have otherwise been a career year (and would probably have cost Ryan Howard his first and so far only MVP award).
The Phillies shouldn't let this stop their current surge, and Jimmy Rollins (sore left foot) should be back on the field by the end of the week. As I alluded to in a post last week, the lineup will do just fine with Placido Polanco hitting leadoff.
The only problem is with Victorino out, Werth is no longer a bargaining chip for an upper-tier starting pitcher, and he's the best one Philadelphia had. Then again, if he really is heating up, would Ruben Amaro want to trade him anyway? The Phillies are still near the top of the list of teams who may land Roy Oswalt, but no matter how interested the Houston Astros may be in J.A. Happ, or how many young prospects the Phillies are willing to part with, I can't see Oswalt wanting to play in Philadelphia. It would give him a shot at another World Series appearance, no doubt, but he can get that much closer to home.
However, if a deal is somehow made and Oswalt becomes a Phillie, Amaro might finally silence his critics.