Here come the hits…

After a couple days of pointing out the Phillies’ offensive flaws by yours truly, it appears as if the bats have awakened this afternoon. The Phillies pasted the Dodgers for nine runs and 10 hits, including a stellar 7-for-16 from The Big Four. A big 3-for-5 with five RBIs from chatty Pat Burrell.

So is the spark the Phillies were talking about? Is this when the offense reemerges?

We’ll see.

Anyway, go to the Twitter page for the Olympic Marathon updates.

Full plate

So I went into Starbucks this morning and ordered the big, big Sidamo coffee. Of course I mispronounced it which drew a bunch of blank stares from the baristas, before they realized what I wanted and corrected me.

“Oh… you mean Sis-AH-mo.”

“Yeah. Coffee.”

The Sidamo brew was described on the board above the urn as “delicate yet complex.” OK. But when I quipped, “Delicate yet complex… sounds like me!” I got nothing.

Blank stares.

Anyway, there is a lot going on today. To start, the struggling Phillies offense takes its road show to Arlington, Texas this evening to play the Rangers. Actually, when I write struggling offense, I really meant all-or-nothing offense. That really seems to describe the Phillies’ hitters perfectly.

Need proof? Check out this stat I was e-mailed about the all-or-nothing Phillies:

The Phillies have scored 10 or more runs in eight games this season for 110 runs. In the other 72 games, the Phillies have scored 294 runs, or 4.08 runs per game.

When scoring 10 or more runs the Phillies are 8-0. In the other 72 games they are 35-37.

Feast or famine.

When was the last time a team with numbers so skewed won the World Series?

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Meanwhile, the track portion of the Olympic Trials begins in earnest tonight in Eugene, Oregon at Hayward Field. For those who don’t follow the sport (and you know who you are), holding the track trials at Hayward Field is staging the World Series in Wrigley Field, Fenway Park or Yankee Stadium rolled into one.

Yeah, it’s a pretty big deal. It’s an even bigger deal when one considers that the Olympic Trials are about as dramatic as it gets in sports. Think about it — athletes get one chance once every four years to qualify for the Olympic team. If they don’t finish in the top three in their event, they have to wait another four years for the next chance.

Needless to say, they bring it at the Trials.

Tonight at 9:20 p.m. the women’s 10,000-meters team will be determined. But if Shalane Flanagan doesn’t run away with this one, something is up. I’m also predicting that Katie McGregor and Elva Dryer will take the other two spots on the Olympic team.

What about Kara Goucher? Come on, you can’t go with the chalk all the time.

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Finally, the final appeal of the Floyd Landis case will be issued on Monday by the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport.

At last.

***
There’s more coming later today. I went to see Ted Leo and Pearl Jam in Washington last Sunday so I figured I might as write about that, too.

***
Cryptic sentence of the day:

Clips are back.

It’s still about the pitching… right?

Kyle KendrickRuns are easy to understand. Actually, scoring runs are the most important thing in baseball. Get more than the other team and you win. Yes, it’s so simple.

The thing about runs though is that they have a way of clouding up the memory banks. It actually might be one of those cases where one cannot see the forest save for the trees.

Or something like that.

The point is that beneath an avalanche of runs and, the nice little ancillary benefit called wins, has been some pretty decent pitching outings. In last night’s 7-4 victory over the Rockies, Kyle Kendrick turned in a career-high 7 1/3 innings, which ended up being the most important performance of the game. For one thing, Kendrick kept the Rockies from inching back into the game when the Phillies’ bats finished scoring for the evening.

For another, Kendrick gave the bullpen a break. After all, the relievers had to turn in five, solid innings to keep the Astros in check last Sunday when ace Cole Hamels turned in an atypical poor outing. As a result, the bats rewarded Chad Durbin and the gang with 15 runs and some not-so strenuous situations on Monday and Tuesday nights.

After the game Kendrick explained how pitching with such a big lead actually helped him last night. While the Phillies scored seven runs before they had even registered five outs, Kendrick said he could relax, settle in and go to work.

“That’s big,” Kendrick said about the early support. “When you take the mound, it’s your job to give your team a chance to win.”

More importantly to the guys behind him, Kendrick pitched quickly, threw strikes and got them back into the dugout reasonably quick. According to Jimmy Rollins, those traits are a sign of Kendrick’s maturity, which is saying something considering the young right-hander had all of 12 starts above Single-A before joining the Phillies last season.

“He got up there and he pounded the zone, and got ahead of hitters,” Rollins said about Kendrick. “He’s keeping us in the game. That’s all you ever ask of any starting pitcher. He’s starting to rediscover his confidence.”

Perhaps some of that comes from the tutelage of the sage-like, 45-year-old starter Jamie Moyer. Kendrick regularly chats with Moyer for advice and guidance on pitching and baseball, which makes a lot of sense. After all, Moyer was finishing up his first professional baseball season when Kendrick was born. Plus, there are very few situations that Moyer has not seen – or been directly involved in – during his 22-season Major League career.

So watching Moyer work through his seven-inning stint during the 20-5 victory over the Rockies on Monday might have been the perfect primer for Kendrick.

Though pitching with such a large lead is difficult for some pitchers because they claim they have difficulty directing their focus, Moyer kept the Rockies to just six hits and four runs with just one walk and seven whiffs while the offense piled on the runs.

But falling back to his old mantra of “Keep it simple, stupid,” Moyer says his focus was on keeping the Rockies from scoring as many runs as he was given. As long as the Rockies never matched his teammates, Moyer was satisfied.

“I was just trying to stay away from the crooked numbers,” Moyer said. “To me it’s just about winning, not the numbers.”

A good offense is certainly is a nice luxury to have. But then again, what good are scoring runs if there is no one to stop the other team?

And then there was offense… kind of

ScribesIt should be noted that there is a full Philadelphia media throng here in Denver tonight. All of the newspapers are represented in sizable numbers, including six writers from the Inquirer and a bunch from the Daily News.

And get this: The Daily News doesn’t even print an edition tomorrow and the rest of the papers are already past deadline.

Ah, but they all have web site… that’s right guys – embrace the technology.

All of a sudden the offense shows up!

With one out in the seventh Shane Victorino knifed one through the wind and into the seats atop the high, out-of-town scoreboard in right field. Just like that and the Phillies have some offense.

They might even have a little spark.

Victorino knew it was gone as soon as he hit it. He reacted with a few short fist pumps as he dashed down the first-base line and was prodding on his teammates throughout the inning. Perhaps Victorino and his home run got the Phillies going? After all, Carlos Ruiz followed it up with a single to chase rookie pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez in favor of veteran Matt Herges.

After Greg Dobbs pinch hit for Abe Nunez and grounded out, Charlie Manuel pulled back Jamie Moyer for pinch hitter Tadahito Iguchi with two outs and a runner on second. We all know that things tend to happen whenever Iguchi steps onto the field.

This time, though, all that happened was an inning-ending pop out.

Moyer’s line: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 2 K – 88 pitches/56 strikes

Here comes the Phillies’ bullpen. Buckle up.