Don’t look now, but the Phillies have silently won 3 of their past 4 games, only losing to the Reds in a Friday night heartbreaker. Despite losing reigning NL MVP Ryan Howard for a few days with a knee strain, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and company were able to acrrue 14 runs against the Reds’ pitching. Recently promoted starter Jon Lieber received the nod on Friday night in the first of a three game series in Cincinnati. Unfortunately, Lieber’s 5 2/3 innings, 1 hit gem only granted him a no decision due to another blown save by closer Tom Gordon.
More dominant starting pitching from Cole Hamels on Saturday and Freddie Garcia on Sunday helped the Phillies take the series against the Reds though. Hamels was phenomenal on Saturday, pitching his first career complete game and striking out 15 batters. Utley provided all the offense Hamels needed, hammering a solo HR and finishing the game with 3 RBI’s. On Sunday, Garcia got his first win in a Phillies uniform, pitching 5 innings and giving up 2 runs on 4 hits. The Phillies also enjoyed welcoming Ryan Howard back to the lineup. Howard, out a total of 3 games, instantly bolstered Philly’s lineup with a sacrifice fly in the first inning and a 2-run HR in the ninth. Utley again came through for the Phillies offense with 2 doubles and 3 runs scored.
So as the weather has warmed up across much of the east coast, the Philadelphia bats seem to be following suit. The bullpen still needs a lot of improvement, but if the offense is able to establish a better cushion into the later innings, perhaps Matt Smith, Geoff Geary, Brett Myers, and especially Tom Gordon can settle down, loosen up, and close out some games. As the warmer weather continues into this week, let’s see if the Phillies winning ways will continue as they travel home to host Houston, Washington, and Florida.