After all the offseason hoopla about the Philadelphia Phillies and their “Phearsome Phoursome” pitchers, they appear to be living up to the offseason hype at the start of the 2011 season. The Phillies defeated the Astros 7-3 to complete a three-game sweep. Roy Oswalt pitched six strong innings in defeating his former club. Oswalt struck out six, walked one and allowed two earned runs. Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Oswalt are now a combined 2-0 with a 2.84 ERA.
Jimmy Rollins continues his stellar hitting at the third spot in the order. Rollins (2/3, 2 BB) had multiple hits in all three games thus far. Rollins is hitting .500 (6/12) with four runs after three games. Ryan Howard (3/5, HR, 4 RBI) hit the Phillies’ first home run of the season. His three-run shot to center field gave the Phillies a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Two batters later, Ben Francisco hit a solo home run to give the Phillies a four-run first inning. Although Francisco’s defense has been unimpressive, he is hitting the ball very well. After three games, Franciso is hitting .462 (6/13).
With the departure of Jayson Werth (Washington Nationals) in the offseason and the injury of Domonic Brown (on the DL with a hand injury), many baseball pundits questioned the strength of the Phillies lineup. At this time, the lineup looks very strong. Hitters 1-4 in the lineup are hitting a collective .408 (20/49) at this time. In three games, the Phillies have scored 21 runs and have only two home runs.
With the incredible pitching rotation the Phillies have this year, I believe manager Charlie Manuel has the players in the proper hitting mindset. A strong rotation enables the hitters to calm down and not force things. The hitters can relax and focus on getting on base. Do not be surprised to see the Phillies play better small ball this season and provide better situational hitting.
The Phillies will begin a three-game series against division rivals New York Mets on Tuesday, April 5. The probable starters for Tuesday are Cole Hamels and Chris Young. Hamels pitched well against the Mets in 2010 with a 3.20 ERA but suffered an 0-4 record. Among those four losses were back-to-back 1-0 losses.