Connect The Dots... What A Week It Was!
Merely a day removed from an 8-1 lambasting by the suddenly surging Atlanta Braves, the Phils trudged home faced with the seemingly daunting task of 6 straight games against the resurgent Colorado Rockies and the reigning NL Champion San Francisco Giants, they of the 17-4 record! Of further concern were creeping questions about the health of pitcher Brandon Duckworth and second sacker Placido Polanco. Both would be answered in the afirmative before the week was out....but in very different ways! Significantly enough, the week began and ended the same way....with Kevin Millwood on the mound. If the Phils are going to get where they want to go this year Millwood is going to have to help lead them there and his contributions this week were huge! His 5-2 win over the heavy hitting Rockies to open the homestand set the tone...he was going to be the anchor that righted the ship. It continued with solid performances by Brett Myers and Randy Wolf and suddenly the Phils had a 3 game winning streak to welcome in the powerful Giants. After a dissapointing, rain soaked 7-4 loss on Friday night the Phils bats were booming in a 10-2 win on Saturday night......merely the warm up act to Sundays masterpiece, the Kevin Millwood no hitter and 1-0 win. A seemingly difficult assignment of six games against Western powers had resulted in a sparkling 5-1 homestand. A closer look at the week reveals some important clues that may hold answers to the ultimate fate of the 2003 Philies. For starters.....the starters all pitched well. Millwood came away with 2 wins, Wolf won his start, and the two youngsters, Brett Myers and Brandon Duckworth, counted on to bridge the gap between Vicente Padilla and Kevin Millwood each won their first games of the still young season. Only Padilla tasted defeat this week, and his performance was a strong one. In fact, a case could be made that if Pat Burrell catches the fly ball to end the 8th inning on Friday night, the Phils go 6-0 for the week. But, this is mere conjecture, the truth is solid enough......the Phils showed they could win in a myriad of ways. For the statistic starved how about these numbers....in the 54 inning week that was the Phils homestand they only trailed in four of the innings and in only the final two innings of the Friday loss did they ever trail by more than 1 run! The Phils had their hitting shoes on this week to the tune of a 35-16 advantage in runs scored. Want more examples of the week that was?.....the Phils showed an impressive ability to win in many ways, with a quick burst like the five run first inning against the Rockies, with powerbursts like the 9 and 10 run games they had....and perhaps even more impressively, when they suffer power outages, like the 1-0 masterpiece by Millwood. There was much to like about the Phils this week.....Abreu seemingly rediscovered his missing stroke, Utley hit his major league first career home run - answering at least for know the question, who's on 2nd? - Thome homered for the first time in two weeks, the bench boys of Perez, Ledee, Michaels and Pratt each took turns helping the team win and the starting pitching was exceptional. Perhaps, the only concerns for the week were the continued struggles of Pat Burrell with the bat and the sudden struggles of the bullpen. But these were concerns for another week and another time, this was a week to savor, to enjoy, to cherish. Baseball is a marathon race, with more ups and downs than a wild roller coaster ride. The up moments are to be enjoyed......and this was a week for Phillie fans to enjoy their team......truly the week that was!
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