Chase Utley Turns the Phillies on Their Heads

Tom DessaletCorrespondent ISeptember 4, 2007

IconChase Utley's return was supposed to help the Phillies continue the hot streak they'd been riding into September.

It wasn't supposed to cool the bats of the other Phils, or suddenly bolster a bullpen which had been inducing more runs than Aunt Patty's undercooked meatloaf.

For some reason, though, the Phillies have slipped after No. 26's return from a broken finger.

Once in a tie for the wild card, the Phightins have fallen into an NL West quagmire.

As of September 4th, the  NL West* (this asterisk denotes no Barry Bonds or Giants included) is a four-team race, with the Rockies only five games out. The Phillies are four off the D-Backs' wild card lead.

The obvious question: "What hath Chase wrought?"

The top run-producing team in the NL has reeled of a string of single-run games against the hated division foes from Queens, Miami, and Atlanta. After barely pulling off an 11-10 victory over the Mets on August 30th, the Phillies have gone 1-4, with two more games to play at Atlanta.

Why such angst over a three-game skid?

Philadelphians had nothing to look forward to this fall (except the Eagles) with Utley out—and his return should've touched off rout after rout. Instead, he's been a cooler in a city starved for success.

Sure, the wins were fun while our rotation was depleted and our All-Star second baseman was injured...but we'd like a few more now that we're going into the stretch run. 

Is that so hard?

Actually, it just might be.