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Chase Utley returns and Phillies pound Reds, but the bats still need consistency

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"KEEP ON PHIGHTIN' WITH JOE VALLEE"

To the UFO who abducted the Phillies who played in Sunday’s game against the Rangers, do us a big favor and KEEP THEM!!!  We like the new guys better.
 
A crowd of 45,841 (the biggest regular season crowd in Citizens Bank Park history) saw the Fightins bang out 10 runs on 14 hits against Bronson Arroyo and the Reds’ bullpen.  I know the flu is going around, but this is ridiculous.
 
I can only imagine what some Phillies fans were saying while watching this game at the park or in the comforts of their living rooms:

“Our offense is back!!”

“All it took was Chase!”

Chase of course, is Chase Utley, who took the field for the first time this season. Truth be told, the Phillies’ lineup did look like they had an extra stride in their step when they took the field Monday night. In a rematch of last year’s NLDS, almost every member of the starting nine had a hit, including starter Cole Hamels, who threw six solid innings while giving up three runs.

That 'almost' however, refers to Utley, who wore an 0 for 5 collar in the game.

I’m gonna give Utley a pass for this one. No, it’s not the kind of pass that he can do whatever he wants because he’s Chase Utley. I'm taking into consideration big-league pitching, and how it's worlds apart from Triple A pitching. The last major league pitch Utley saw while playing on a baseball diamond was the one Brian Wilson threw to Ryan Howard last October.

Sorry to bring that up again. Moving on, there were definitely more positives than negatives in this game:

1. The Phillies offense banged out three homers!  I guess it’s one of those things that when it is relied on, you wish the team would do less of it. But when it gets to the point when a Phillies’ home run is more the exception than the rule, you’ll take a four bagger any day. When Placido Polanco of all people goes deep to start things off, you know it’s going to be a great night.

2. Domonic Brown got in on the action: Let’s be honest: Brown is up here right now because the Phillies’ M.A.S.H. unit of a disabled list is longer than Dr. J’s hands. Brown is the future folks, and on the job training is probably how it’s going to be for the 23 year-old from this point on. And if he doesn’t produce, they will send him down again. Even one hit can raise your confidence. Let’s hope that puts Brown on a roll.

3. Just having Utley out in the field gives the Phillies an edge: Believe it or not, the Phillies’ winning percentage without Utley is not all that different than when he plays. In saying that, maybe it’s a psychological thing, but any team will pitch differently to your lineup when a player of his caliber is present. Truth be told, pitchers don’t know what to expect of Utley right now. There’s a possibility this could go on for weeks, and then the offense goes cold again.

Bottom Line:  You could feel the energy right through the TV screen when Dan Baker announced Utley's name Monday night. Just seeing him at bat was a thrill. However, let’s not get too carried away here. How the Phils perform offensively with Utley back in the lineup from this point is still a question. The Phillies just won ONE game. Sure, the offense looked great, but there needs to be a lot more consistency from these guys before we go printing World Series tickets.

Moreover, Arroyo is a solid veteran pitcher, but he’s nowhere near Tim Lincecum or Josh Jonson's caliber (although he's injured right now). If the Phils go deep into the playoffs, chances are they will be facing those types of starters.  If the offense goes back to its floundering ways, Ruben Amaro HAS to deal for a bat. If a bat is somehow not needed and the Phils can keep this up, there will be very few teams in baseball who can compete with them.

Let’s just enjoy this moment for now. Because after the Phillies hand out the Roy Oswalt bobblehead’s Tuesday night, it’s a whole other game.

In the meantime, Keep On Phightin'

 

Contact Joe at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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Joe Vallee is a lifelong Phillies fan and former Phillies batboy. Joe has claimed to have seen about 98% of every Phillies game since the early 1980's.