There are so many underlying themes and subplots with these Phillies that it makes a day with the team seem as if one were watching a mini-series. Swing a dead cat and hurl it through the Phillies’ clubhouse and chances are it will bean a would-be story in the melon.
But the main premise with the Phillies remains unchanged. It’s all about injuries and pitching, folks.
In Thursday’s series finale in Chicago the injury bugged showed that it wasn’t just monopolized by the initiated. No, it appears as if all one has to do is pull on a Phillies uniform and something crazy will happen. Kyle Lohse, the new starting the pitcher the Phillies picked up in a trade from the Reds on Monday had his Phillies’ suit on for just 29 pitches and one inning before he got all nicked up by a line drive off his forearm.
How long he’ll be out is anyone’s guess.
“Just the way it welted up right away, I knew they weren’t going to let me go out there and chance it,” Lohse told reporters after the 10-6 victory over the Cubs. “We’ll see how it goes. I don’t think it’s serious enough for the DL, but it was pretty bad.”
Lohse is hardly the biggest problem for manager Charlie Manuel and general manager Pat Gillick. Far from it, in fact. The Phillies stayed in the playoffs chase without Lohse, chances are they will stay close to the first-place Mets with him doing his best Danny Tartabull impression.
Nevertheless, it’s a fun little exercise to imagine how much better the Phillies could be had the injuries not plagued the team so thoroughly – and by fun we mean in the same manner as pouring a can of paint thinner on top of a bon fire. You know, Beavis & Butthead stuff.
Think about what would have happened this week if Chase Utley had not been beaned by that pitch at the Bank last week. Certainly Gillick would have never gone out and traded for Tadahito Iguchi even though he didn’t really have to give up much to get him. More importantly there’s a strong possibility that Ryan Howard would not be in such a swoon if Utley were still hitting ahead of him in the lineup.
“Teams probably are not going to give me anything to hit even more now,” Howard forecasted soon after Utley’s injury. “It’s definitely going to be hard with him not being here, the way he works pitchers and has such good ABs.”
With Utley on the shelf, Howard is 5-for-26 (.192) with three RBIs, no homers and 15 strikeouts. Clearly Howard is trying to carry the load with Utley out, though he dismissed the idea when the subject was broached by a few of the li’l newshounds travelling around with the team. However, Manuel believes it just could be the case just as he admitted it was the case in the beginning of the season when Howard got off to a slow start before landing on the disabled list in May.
Meanwhile, one of those underlying themes that could become a major focus if the Phillies are still in the hunt a month from now remains the right arm of reliever Tom Gordon. The veteran right-hander pitched on Thursday afternoon and was able to hand over a lead to closer Brett Myers despite giving up a run, two hits and a walk in the eighth inning, but that wasn’t the case the night before.
Gordon complained of shoulder tightness before the game and informed Manuel that he wasn’t available, which didn’t really work out too well. As a result, Myers came in to pitch in the ninth inning of a tied game (on the road), and had he been able to get out of the inning J.D. Durbin was set to come in and pitch until ol’ Mother Leary’s cows came home to Chicago.
The coincidental part of that is Durbin was brought in to be the long man today when Lohse was knocked out after just one inning.
So maybe it all worked out?
Maybe. Maybe not. Myers likely would have escaped the inning last night had the injured Michael Bourn been available to play left field instead of Jayson Werth when Matt Murton’s sinking liner dropped in for a double.
Anyway, there’s a lot of that woulda, coulda, shoulda stuff going on with the Phillies these days. You know, kind of like Beavis & Butthead.
Fire! Fire! Fire!
Tomorrow (or maybe later) we finally get to Barry Bonds and David Walsh’s book.
We should also mention that Pat Burrell is hitting hell out of the ball these days… if we rip him when he’s bad, it’s only fair to point out when he’s playing well.