After an ugly Sunday doubleheader, the Phillies righted the ship, at least for one day. After getting good news that one of their leaders, Chase Utley, would return to the lineup this week, the Phillies opened up a four-game series with the Pirates with an 8-3 victory.
BLANTON SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN
-It wasn’t awful Joe Blanton, but it wasn’t great Joe Blanton, either. He did his best to piss off 43,000+ by keeping the Pirates well within striking distance, even with the Phillies scoring seven runs in the first four innings. It was that Blanton we will most certainly accept, the Blanton somewhere in between those two, but more toward the good end.
-Blanton again threw a ton of strikes. It’s been his M.O. this year, almost to a fault. He threw 114 pitches, 72 strikes on the evening, and walked just one batter. His line: Seven innings, seven hits, three runs (two earned), one walk, eight strikeouts.
-Jake Diekman came on and allowed a four-pitch walk, then settled in for a double play and strikeout in the eighth. They NEED Diekman to step up, someone in that pen has to.
-Chad Qualls came on in the ninth holding a five-run lead and did not relinquish it.
J-ROLL ON FIRE
-It’s unlikely we’ll ever see Jimmy Rollins approach the MVP season of 2007. Even still, he’s done a damn good impression of it since June. And really, he stepped it up before that. Go back to when Rollins and wife Johari had their baby. Since retuning from paternity leave on May 24 (as Kevin Cooney pointed out on twitter) he’s hitting .321 with seven homers and 19 RBIs (after his homer). He doubled in the first and tacked on a monster home run in the fourth inning, even showing a little Jimmy swagger in the process as he admired the shot.
-More Jimmy stats: Rollins has four homers in his last 5 games. Before that, he had 4 homers in first 67 games this season
-In the Phillies four-run first inning, they were aided by a cadre of mistakes on defense. The Pirates looked like the Bad News Bears committing three errors, two from right fielder Jose Tabata. All told, they put up four in the E-column on Monday night.
-Carlos Ruiz three hits and raised his average to .354. His OPS is now a loony .982. Vote for Chooch, seriously guys.
-Pirates pitching wasn’t very good, either. Jeff Karstens allowed 11 hits in five innings. Doug Slaten came in and nearly imploded in the seventh inning, loading the bases with nobody out. He would walk home a run then get out of the inning with three straight strikeouts.
-Second baseman Mike Fontenot went down in a heap in the seventh inning. Fielding a grounder to his left, he twisted his ankle but did stay in the game.
-Chase Utley comes back this week. That’s enough to make the notes section.