The Phils completed the week (defined as Monday through Sunday) with a 3-3 record, taking two from the Marlins and dropping the final two to the Braves. It was good enough to keep them two games ahead of the Marlins in the NL East, and they retained their best record in the league status.
It was a week that Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel went with a four-man pitching rotation of Joe Blanton, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels; the first pair getting two starts apiece.
It was a week that also saw almost as much Major League talent suit up for the Single-A Clearwater Threshers—last Thursday night’s contest saw pitcher Roy Oswalt, catcher Carlos Ruiz and second baseman Chase Utley all start for the Floridian minor leaguers—as performed for the parent club.
While these three All-Star caliber players were rehabbing in A-ball, and outfielder Domonic Brown was also playing himself back into MLB shape, the Phillies were giving lots of playing time to the likes of Pete Orr, Ross Gload, Wilson Valdez and John Mayberry, Jr.
The week saw ace of aces Halladay pitch two strong games but come away with two losses. Second banana Cliff Lee pitched pretty well on Wednesday evening, but got pulled early (in the top of the seventh). Manuel was desperate to get any offense going for Lee, who could sue his offense for non-support and win more millions for his family.
With no wins to show for his last five starts, I’m sure Lee would give back tons of loot to pick up a win or two. It got so interesting for Lee that even when he scorched a single off Omar Infante’s glove (or leg) with two outs in the top of the fifth to apparently knot the game at 1-1, backup catcher Brain Schneider (a fill-in himself for the then-injured Carlos Ruiz) strained a left hamstring rounding third. The wounded catcher retreated to first base before being pulled from the game.
To the Phillies’ credit, they would fight back to win 5-3, but they scored no runs in six innings while Lee was still hurling.
Curiosities like this, and a very erratic offense, make it hard for me to award my Top Phillie of the Week Award, but here goes, from No. 6 to No.1.
6. John Mayberry, Jr. played in five games, but had a grand total of six at-bats this week. He did what he could with them, going 2-for-6 with a homer, two RBI and two stolen bases.
Mayberry was the Phillies' offense in the 3-2 loss to the Marlins yesterday, launching a two-run homer in the top of the sixth. He also drew two walks and stole a base, but the rest of the offense did not deliver. For the season, he is slashing .295/.415/.500.
5. Ryan Howard only went 5-for-23 (.217), but he slugged his ninth homer, drove in five and scored four. He leads the league with 35 RBI and is fifth in home runs with nine. Just wait 'till the perennial All-Star really heats up.
4. This may, in fact, be a sympathy vote for Cliff Lee. The people’s choice only threw six innings and gave up three earned runs on seven hits (while striking out four against no walks), but the man is pitching with absolutely no margin for error these days. (And he did stroke what should have been a game-tying hit with two outs in the fifth.)
Lee will have a chance to break that five-game skid against Jake Westbrook and the St. Louis Cardinals. Is this the night he gets rewarded again?
3. Roy Halladay: Maybe the Phillies' offense is starting to give Doc Halladay the Cliff Lee treatment. Phillies fans, pray not!
Doc pitched 16 innings and two more complete games this past week, but only had two losses to show for it. He yielded 13 hits, walked four and fanned 16. The four earned runs made his ERA 2.25 for the week and 2.21 for the season.
2. Vance Worley, after two terrific starts, was brought back to the bullpen with Big Joe back in the starting rotation. He was not perfect in the two games, but only yielded three hits and one run in his four innings. Worley did earn holds in both starts, and his record for the season is now 2-0 with a 1.24 ERA.
My co-runner-up this week is Antonio Bastardo, who continues to impress. AB threw just 1.1 innings without a run, struck out two and walked one. He has replaced J.C. Romero as the go-to lefty (for now, anyway) and his 2-0 record with the 1.26 ERA—to say nothing of his 21 Ks, seven walks and only seven hits in 14.1 innings—is quite encouraging.
1. This week’s winner of the TPW Award is…Ryan Madson. The former king of the eighth has shown that he can also own the ninth inning this year.
For the week, R-Mad earned three saves in as many appearances and surrendered only one hit and one walk while striking out four batters.
He has excelled all year and is now six-for-six in save opportunities, while compiling a 2-0 record with an 0.56 ERA, a WHIP of 0.94 and an opponents’ batting average of .161.
Not only is Madson our Top Phillie of the Week, but he is also on a short list of Team MVP candidates for this young season.
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