The Phillies want first place. They’re going to have to get it tonight against the Marlins. Jamie Moyer tries to win the fifth straight for the Phils and continue his strong 45 year old season. Mark Hendrickson tries to take his surprising season one more game against a blazing Phillies lineup.
It’s the bottom of the lineup truly carrying the Phils though. Pedro Feliz, Geoff Jenkins, and even Carlos Ruiz (and of course Chris Coste) are contributing. Time to take it into June.
It’s May 12, and the Florida Marlins are in first place.
That’s right, for the second week in a row, the team that just unloaded its sensational third baseman and its pitching ace is atop a division that includes the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets.
A fluke? Not at all.
This is just one of the surprising storylines that has made this start to the 2008 season one of the more interesting that I can remember. Here are the storylines, one per team, that are making baseball fans scratch their heads right now:
Posted in Braves, Marlins, Mets, Nationals, Phillies
Tagged Andrew Miller, Austin Kearns, Braves, Burke Badenhop, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, Chase Utley, David Wright, Edgar Renteria, Jair Jurrjens, Jimmy Rollins, John Lannan, John Smoltz, Jose Reyes, Lastings Milledge, Mark Hendrickson, Marlins, Mets, Mike Hampton, Nationals, Nick Johnson, Pat Burrell, Phillies, Ricky Nolasco, Ryan Church, Ryan Howard, Ryan Zimmerman, Scott Olsen, Tim Hudson, Tom Glavine
Great week for the division. The NL East is hot; only the Marlins came in at under .500 for the past 10 games. The last-place Nationals are just 4 games out, and are 8-2 in their last 10. The Phillies may still lead the division, but the Mets and Marlins are just a half a game out.
Some of the league’s finest talent plays in the division, and this cream of the crop is setting the pace in 2008. Chipper Jones leads the league in Batting Average with a whopping .421 so far. Chase Utley leads in home runs, with 13; Pat Burrell is tied for second with 9. Burrell is also second for RBIs, with 28. Utley and Jones lead the league in OPS, with 1.193 and 1.189 respectively. Marlins starter Mark Hendrickson is second in the league for wins, with 5 so far. Of the pitchers with WHIPs in the top 10, 4 are in the NL East: Johan Santana, Tim Hudson, Jair Jurjjens, and Cole Hamels. Billy Wagner leads the league in Batting Average Against (.070). And Wagner, Brad Lidge, and Jon Rauch are tied for fifth in the league for saves, notching 7 to this point.
As expected, the division is shaping up to be extremely competative down the stretch. Look for the Marlins to cool off as their young pitching exhausts itself, and for the Braves to heat up as key players such as John Smoltz and Mike Hampton return. The Mets have nowhere to go but up, the Phillies continue to be led by career years by both Chase Utley and Pat Burrell, and even the Nationals are playing good baseball at present.
Here are the standings through Monday May 5:
New York: 16-13, 0.5 GB
Florida: 17-14, 0.5 GB
Atlanta: 15-15, 2 GB
Washington: 14-18, 4 GB
Posted in Braves, General, Marlins, Mets, Nationals, Phillies
Tagged Billy Wagner, Brad Lidge, Braves, Chase Utley, Chipper Jones, Cole Hamels, Jair Jurjjens, Johan Santana, John Smoltz, Mark Hendrickson, Marlins, Mets, Mike Hampton, Nationals, NL East, Pat Burrell, Phillies, Tim Hudson
Pirates 11-Nationals 4: The lights went out on the Nats tonight–both literally and figuratively. This one started ugly for John Lannan, and ended ugly for the Nationals overworked bullpen. Lannan lasted only 3 innings, giving up 6 runs, 5 earned, on 6 hits, walking 2 and striking out none. For the record, NL Beast called the meltdown. Manny Acta decided to employ the starter by committee approach, as Mike O’Connor pitched 3.2 in relief for Lannan. For the Pirates, Jose Bautista homered twice on the night.
Braves 2-Reds 0: Nice pitchers dual in Atlanta tonight, as Tim Hudson squared off against young Edison Volquez. Any question of Tim Hudson’s health was resolved tonight as the sinkerballer pitched a complete game, striking out 10 and walking no one. Wow. Brian McCann‘s 2 run blast was all the offense the Braves needed to defeat the Reds.
Marlins 6-Padres 4: Dan Uggla homered twice, notching 4 RBIs on the night as the Marlins defeated San Diego. Mark Hendrickson got the win, going 7 innings, giving up 3 runs on 5 hits. Justin Germano got knocked around by the Fish, letting up 6 runs, 5 earned, including 3 home runs, in 5.2 innings of work.
Posted in Braves, Marlins, Nationals
Tagged Braves, Brian McCann, Dan Uggla, Edison Volquez, John Lannan, Jose Bautista, Justin Germano, Manny Acta, Mark Hendrickson, Marlins, Mike O'Connor, Nationals, Padres, Pirates, Reds, Tim Hudson
San Francisco at Philadelphia: The Phillies are in first place and the Giants are not, which should say something about this series. Aaron Rowand returns to Citizen’s Bank Park for the first time since the Giants signed him to a [ridiculous] deal. Kyle Kendrick (2-2, 5.13) tries to find his groove for the Phils against Pat Misch (0-0, 3.00) who makes his first start after being recalled from AAA.
San Diego at Florida: The Marlins will take the field tonight without Josh Willingham, who was placed on the DL today with soreness in his back. Hanley Ramirez moves to third in the order to compensate for the lack of power. The ageless Luis Gonzalez get the start in left. Justin Germano (0-2, 6.04) goes against Mark Hendrickson (4-1, 3.68).
Cincinnati at Atlanta: Young Edison Volquez (4-0, 1.23) is just one of the few bright spots for the Reds this season, and he takes the mound tonight against Tim Hudson (3-2, 3.74), who many suspect might have a nagging injury that has affected his performance this year. We’ll see if he can last more than three innings tonight.
Posted in Braves, Marlins, Phillies
Tagged Aaron Rowand, Braves, Edison Volquez, Giants, Hanley Ramirez, Josh Willingham, Justin Germano, Kyle Kendrick, Luis Gonzalez, Mark Hendrickson, Marlins, Padres, Pat Misch, Phillies, Reds, Tim Hudson