Reversal of Fortunes
Two laughers in a row. Three wins in a row (shoulda' been five). Jimmy Rollins walking the walk, or more precisely running the trot. Brett Myers moving to the pen for the good of the team. Shane Victorino still defying the sophomore jinx. What's next? Dallas Green sending the players posies after each win?
Throughout the early going the little engine that could has. Right now it's hard to think of a better all-around shortstop than J-Roll. He hits, he runs, he scores, hits for power and, oh yeah, still fields among the best. Without him the Phillies would be trailing the Reading Phils. And let's not forget one more thing about Jimmy: he clearly enjoys playing the game. The impish smile is always there when things are going well for the Phils. Perhaps more notably, he never gets too low when things aren't going well and lord knows he's had plenty of opportunity to feel low in 2007.
Two other major pistons in the Phillies engine, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, are taking different paths at the moment. Utley has finally found his stroke and is hitting home runs, some prodigious, while raising his average. Utley's fielding remains steady if unspectacular and always dependable. Howard is still looking for some consistency at bat and in the field. He is striking out too much and continues to look uncomfortable at the plate. His average continues to hover closer to the Mendoza line than not. His stance is more upright than last season nor does he hold the bat out in front of himself as long as he did last year. These were no idle gestures. The bend at the knees and bat outstretched enabled him to achieve balance and relaxation. His weight seemed much more evenly distributed. This year he appears tense, his weight forward. He is lunging more at the ball. In the field he continues to make lazy mistakes, his concentration clearly lacking.
Finally, the Phils won at home against a team, Houston, that has become something of a nemesis the last few years. Last night's win was only their second one in seven tries at Citizens Bank Park in 2007. Throughout their 3-year tenure at the Bank the Phillies have barely broken .500. Home cooking just hasn't agreed with them, but if they can start to win at home consistently the fans will come.