…there was a team that had a starting rotation many — including some of us — thought was better than ours. Whose lineup seemed to stack up pretty well with ours. A team that talked big that this was their year, for the first time since 1980 and the second time since … well, since never.
What happened to the Philadelphia Phillies? They're on the DL — Freddy Garcia and Jon Lieber and Tom Gordon and Brett Myers are sidelined, Pat Burrell's disappearing act continues, and Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley and Ryan Howard can't do it all themselves. I mean, Dobbs and Ruiz and Happ? Who are these guys? (Though Michael Bourn is positively Endyesque as a figure of fear if you're a batter who's just sent one into the gap and sees him closing ground out there.)
The Phillies have had a run of horrific luck. But bad luck's part of the game, and so far we've done what we're supposed to do when confronted with a wounded, unlucky opponent — step on his throat, since you know he'd step on yours. Like the Phillies did in the beginning of the month, as a sputter against the Diamondbacks turned into a disaster against them, kicking off that lovely 4-14 stretch in which we won once a week. Ugly, but we then finished the month 8-1, however, making June 2007 about the most encouraging damn 12-15 month I can remember.
In the beginning of the year it was our rotation that looked old and suspect. Now the Phillies barely have a rotation, and we find ourselves indignant at the idea that John Maine might not make the All-Star team, and largely shrugging off a hamstring strain for a guy with a 7-3 record. Jorge Sosa had one more start before the All-Star break; we'll hand that one over to Mike Pelfrey and see if New Orleans has sharpened his sinker and dulled his anxieties, and assume Sosa will be back in two weeks. Up next for the Phils? Someone named Kyle Kendrick, who began the year in Reading. If Kyle Kendrick pulls a Darrin Winston on us, the Phils salvage one of four. If we prevail, the Phils are a .500 team.
A bit of amnesia's a good thing in baseball — it lets you revel in 8-1 to the exclusion of 4-14. It might be good for Phillie fans too, considering the ill portents abounding. In the seventh, Aaron Rowand went racing toward the center-field fence, then went three-quarters over it, with Carlos Beltran's second home run of the day actually glancing off his glove before finding its right and proper home beyond the fence. As the play unfolded, it sure looked like a replay of the circus catch Rowand made last year, robbing Xavier Nady in a game that the rain ended before we could get to Gavin Floyd. Except this year Rowand didn't catch the ball. (Though he did keep his nose intact.) This week, rain-shortened wins have been on our side of the ledger — sorry, Anthony Reyes. Even when we don't play we win: witness the suspiciously spiked Mets-Cards finale, which just happened to come on a night when it would have been really good for the Mets to get on a bus early for a double header against a division rival. The fact that the skies cleared by around 9 that night and stayed that way? Purest coincidence.
All this is a roundabout way of saying I'm not putting my money on Kyle Kendrick tomorrow.