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Taking a Three-Month Mulligan
2004-08-15 22:45
by Mike Carminati

On May 8, the Phils' Ryan Madson established a team rookie record for consecutive scoreless innings at 21. The Phils beat the Diamondbacks on the road that night, 8-7, to even their record at 14-14. Eric Milton ran his record to 3-0. Doug Glanville led off for just the third time on the year and reached on a throwing error by the third baseman in the first and eventually came around to score the go-ahead run. Super-sub Tomas Perez had a big night with a homer and four RBI.

The next night they won 7-1 as Brett Myers won his first game of the year. Marlon Byrd returned as the leadoff hitter, led off the game with a home run, and went 2-for-2 with two walks, one RBI, and three runs scored. Jimmy Rollins went 4-for-5.

All of the pieces seemed to be falling into place. The Phils were finally above .500 for the first time all year after starting 1-6. They were still two games behind division-leading Florida, and the division was very tight (Braves 3.5 games back and the Mets 4), but they finally seemed to be fulfilling the potential that everyone had seen for them at the start of the season.

It's now over three months later, and the Phils have had many ups and downs, but they always stayed over .500, until now. After being swept by the Giants in a three game series including a 16-6 shellacking and suffering through a 1-6 stretch, the Phillies are now 59-59. They are 8-1/2 games behind the Braves in the East and are 4-1/2 games out of the wild card with three teams ahead of and one tied with them.

They have exactly one-third of the season remaining. Madson, who has been the anchor of their staff, is on the DL. Putative number-one starter Kevin Millwood, starting left fielder Pat Burrell, and closer and supposed "final piece to the puzzle" Bill Wagner are also on the DL. All-Star first baseman has missed to games and remains questionable.

The Phils play host now to the Astros, who have their own problems, but do have Roy Oswalt and Roger Clemens going in the first two games. If the Phils should fall below .500 it would just be the latest blow to a seemingly anaesthetized team.

But the good news is that they did make up those two games on the Marlins. Both teams are tied for second in the NL East.

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