Phillies Need To Make Hay Heading To All-Star Break

Scott EisenlohrAnalyst IJune 28, 2009

NEW YORK - JUNE 10:  Chase Utley #26 of the Philadelphia Phillies bats against  the New York Mets during their game on June 10, 2009 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

With a series win over the Toronto Blue Jays, Brad Lidge back and Raul Ibanez on his way back, it is time for the Phillies to take hold of the National League East.

Phils fans held their collective breath when closer Brad Lidge entered Sunday's game against the Toronto Blue Jays holding a slim 5-4 lead.

Raul Chavez dropped a bunt and Lidge's field and throw were late. John McDonald pinch ran for Chavez, and after Brad Lidge ran a 3-2 count on Marco Scutaro, he walked him to put runners on first and second with no outs.

Oh-oh.

Aaron Hill fouled out, then McDonald, leading off second, was picked off in a bad blunder.

Vernon Wells grounded out to end the game and it was game, set, match, Phillies. The Phillies won the series 2-1 and will hold either a one and a half or two-game lead over the Mets in National League East after Sunday's evening game.

The Phillies stand at 39-34.

They head to Atlanta for three games starting Tuesday, then come home for an important weekend series with the Mets and end the home stand with Cincinnati and Pittsburgh heading into the All-Star break.

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After Friday's 6-1 loss to Toronto, the Phils were reeling, losing 11 of 13 games.

A few things happened and give credit to Manager Charlie Manuel and Phillies pitchers and thirdly, timely hitting.

Manuel sat down struggling shortstop Jimmy Rollins for the whole Toronto series. His play on the field has been more disturbing than his struggles at the plate.

The double play has not been as crisp and his play, going for the force at second rather than throwing out the slow Pat Burrell in a recent loss to Tampa Bay, have been troublesome.

J.A. Happ gave a complete game, five-hit shutout of the Blue Jays in a 10-0 win on Saturday, as Jayson Werth continued to dominate the Blue Jays, going 4-for-4 with two home runs.

Chase Utley's two-run triple capped the Phillies offensive attack Sunday.

Utley continues to lead the All-Star second basemen voters, but it is Rollins who sets the table for the Phillies in 2009. The former MVP is the heartbeat of this team. He needs to hit and raise his average to around .280 and make the plays on the field he is known for.

My opinion about Rollins?

He is tired.

After saying his team was the team to beat in 2007 and winning the MVP and following up with a great 2008, Rollins has no where to go but down.

What needs to happen?

Realistically, I think Rollins can get his average up to .250. Ibanez will return and another pitcher will come along, whether it be Carlos Carrasco, who might pitch Thursday, or in a trade.

The Mets have had a tough time against cross-town rival New York Yankees and were unable to take advantage of the Phillies recent slide.

Manuel was right to bench Rollins and continues to prove that managers—after winning the World Series—are less afraid to do what they want, rather than following public opinion or managing scared.

Take two-of-three from the Braves, win the Mets series and lose one or two against both Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.

Is it possible? Yes.

Probable? No.

But it is something championship teams do.

Let's make some hay.