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Will Phillies turn the corner on 2010 despite drama and rumors surrounding the team?


There were pre AND post game fireworks at the Phillies game Friday night. I've Phillies players wait at home plate for teammate Ryan Howard after his game-winning two-run home run off Reds pitcher Arthur Rhodes on Friday.Photo: Matt Slocum / APattended close to a thousand Phillies games in my life, and let me tell you, this may rank in my all-time top ten (minus playoffs, of course) based on the grounds of sheer craziness. A game-tying home run by new Phillie Cody Ransom? A walk-off homer by Ryan Howard off dominant lefty Arthur Rhodes?

The crowd was the loudest I've heard at Citizens Bank Park all season. Phils win, 9-7. Wow!

Make no mistake, up until the bottom of the ninth inning, the Phillies probably played one of their ugliest games of 2010. And to be blunt, the team as a whole really seemed lifeless for eight innings.

They weren't taking pitches (Reds starter Mike Leake had thrown just 46 pitches after five innings as opposed to Joe Blanton's 96), runners were getting picked off (Jimmy Rollins) or thrown out trying to stretch singles into doubles (Howard). It got so bad that my friends and my dad were predicting how Greg Dobbs was going to be retired prior to hitting his three-run homer, which started the rally in the ninth (I predicted a strikeout on a high fastball, by the way). I know, I know, that's wrong. However,sitting through that game up until that point was brutal. And this season, the Phillies have not been like those 2007-2009 squads. You know, when you would NEVER leave the ballpark even though the team might have been trailing. And fans can pick up on this.

I know this team has been DECIMATED by injuries. However, they have been able to usually get through these rough spots. Oddly enough, a rumor (and that's ONLY what it is at this time) surfaced the other day that if true, could answer some questions as to why the Fightins can't seem to get it together this year. For a team like the Phillies, who pride themselves on having a good clubhouse, this could be devastating if true. 

It's none of my business, and this is not a forum for that. I do find it ironic that Chase Utley (even when healthy) hasn't exactly torn the cover off the ball this year. To be fair, players DO have off years, and Utley has shown at times he is part human (there was 2008, when he played on basically one hip). Interestingly enough, Werth suffered a tremendous decline in production in May. This also brings questions as to whether the Werth trade rumors (on a day where Cliff Lee was traded again) are due to his impending free agency coupled with the fact that the Phillies need to improve the team, or if moving Werth is a necessity.

Let's assume that it's just a rumor and move on. A more serious question to be answered is this: Will the last two dramatic wins for the Phillies turn the corner for this struggling team and inspire them to make a run at another NL East crown in the second half? Or are games like these nothing but  Del Unser-ish moments in an otherwise lost season?   One wouldn't think this is exactly the ideal time for gaining momentum, being that the All-Star break is in two days. This team is definitely a work in progress.  J.C. Romero couldn't even retire Leak in the ninth inning Friday night. Blanton looked unspectacular to say the least. The pen overall is a mess, and the team STILL can't score runs without homering.

Despite the team's overall play, at least the Phils are staying in the Wild Card race right now, so we'll see what the second half brings.

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

Photo: Matt Slocum/AP