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Monday, April 4, 2011

Sweeping Start

So, like I said in my post on Friday, the Phillies are going to hit the cover off the ball and run through this season without a problem.

Not quite.

The National League better hope that the Houston Astros just aren’t very good this season after what the Phillies did to them in sweeping the opening series, 3-0. Obviously, making too much of any three games in a season is a mistake. The Astros probably are not very good, and they actually had to scratch their third starter – J.A. Happ – on Sunday.

But the numbers were eye popping:

• Ryan Howard is 7 for 13 with a home run. (Do you think maybe he’s a little tired of seeing the replay of him ending last season with the bat on his shoulder?)
• Jimmy Rollins is 6 for 12 with 2 walks already.
• Ben Francisco went 6 for 13 with a home run.
• Placido Polanco hit 5 for 12 with 2 doubles.
• Wilson Valdez even went 4 for 11 with a double.

And, oh, by the way, John Mayberry chipped in with a game-winning hit to cap off the Opening Day comeback.

The truest signals of what “could be” this season are the contributions of Francisco, Valdez, and Mayberry. They’re looking to fill the potential void left by Jayson Werth’s departure and Chase Utley’s injury. If even two of these guys who were question marks at the beginning of the season show life at the plate, and Howard and Rollins have gotten the message to make contact and let the home runs come, it will be a long season for the rest of the NL.

And it doesn’t hurt to be sending Cole Hamels to the mound as the starter in the fourth game of the season.

But, again, it’s likely the Phils started the season with a bit of a cream puff opponent. Starting tomorrow they face the Mets, Braves, Nationals, and Marlins, in consecutive series. It will give everybody a very quick understanding of where the Phillies stand in comparison to their N.L. East Division opponents.

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