In The Hunt
The only things hotter than the weather yesterday at the Bank were the Phillies' bats as they completed a sweep of the woeful Cleveland Indians. The opposition may not have been much the past three games but every club has a few chances to play weak teams and must capitalize. The Phils did just that.
Amazingly, after all the injuries, missing offense, erratic pitching and, yes, even erratic defense, the Phils find themselves a mere 2.5 games behind first place Atlanta and only one game back in the loss column. If they could stay in the hunt after the horrible month plus they've endured, anything is possible, especially if they get their injured players back soon.
Chase Utley is hitting again. So is Jayson Werth. Placido Polanco never stopped and has played magnificently at third base (yesterday's pop fly foulup notwithstanding). And Ryan Howard continues to deliver while making himself a better fielder and batter for average. The big signing contract on top of his already-stratospheric earlier one hasn't dimmed the fire within one spark. Howard continues to try and make himself a more complete player. One even notices that at the mound conferences, he is the one to slap the pitcher on the fanny and encourage him. He is assuming a greater role in the area of intangibles.
Joe Blanton pitched a good game yesterday under awful conditions. (Oops! Another reference slipped in.) More significantly, he pitched into the eighth inning giving the battered bullpen a day off except for Nelson Figueroa, back in town for his ninth life.