Philadelphia Phillies 18-23 5 1/2 GB in National League East.
Bobby Abreu is on what many Phillies experts is calling the hottest streak ever by a Phillies player. Abreu, who was hitting .261 at the end of April is now hitting .336 after a torrid May. He is currently on an 11 game hitting streak, hitting .552 (21-38) during the stretch and has hits in 14 of his last 15 games, hitting .481 (25-52) in those games. He also came into May with just one homerun and hadn't homered since April 9th. Now, Abreu has 12 homeruns on the season. It's a flat out remarkable turn around that will likely propel Abreu to another All-Star Game appearance. Abreu is tied for the National League in homeruns and just two behind Major League leader Alex Rodriguez. His 33 RBI have him third in the NL and his .336 average is eighth in the league. Plus, he's driven in at least one run in ten straight games, tying him with Pinky Whitney for the franchise record. He has also scored a run in the last ten straight games and homered in nine of the last ten.
When you look down the road, Abreu is on a pace to finish the season with 47 homeruns, 130 RBI and 40 stolen bases, which would give him his second 30 homerun / 30 stolen base season of his career. Abreu is already the only Phillie to ever accomplish that feat. Those numbers would also have to get him at least some consideration for a National League MVP award.
The good news is that Vicente Padilla has picked up the pace a little. The bad news is that Jon Lieber is falling off the pace. Lieber lasted just four innings against St.Louis Wednesday night and went just 5 1/3 in his previous outing against Cincinnati. In his last two starts, Lieber is 0-2, 11.58 after a strong start to the season. In Padilla's last two starts, he's gone 1-0, 3.27, including six shutout innings against Cincinnati in his last start.
Will the Phillies cut Jose Offerman when they need roster room to return Jim Thome and Kenny Lofton? It's not likely. The Phillies still believe that Ryan Howard needs to log more time at AAA before he's completely ready for the majors. Howard will likely be one of the cuts and the second cut will be interesting. The Phillies insist that Endy Chavez is in Philly to stay, leaving Offerman and relievers Rob Tejeda and Geoff Geary as the likely candidates. Tejeda would seem the likely choice, but Geary is a possibility.
Scranton Wilkes-Barre Red Barons 17-22 7.0 GB in International League North.
Gavin Floyd wasn't dominant in beating Durham Wednesday night, but he was better. He allowed seven hits and five walks in six innings, but picked up his first win at AAA this season. The outing lowerd Floyd's ERA to 7.66 and put his record at 1-4 on the season. He had said earlier in the week that he felt his mechanics were getting better and that he was close to returning to form.
Pedro Liriano (0-4, 3.29) is also looking to regain his form. Liriano gave Scranton 6 2/3 innings Tuesday night, allowing just one run on five hits and three walks. His only real mistake of the night came when he hung a pitch that was ripped out of Lackawanna County Stadium. Unfortunately for Liriano, the Scranton offense didn't kick in until he had left the game. Reliever Sean Fesh was the recipient of two runs in the bottom of the seventh and picked up his first win of the season, going just 1/3 of an inning.
Franklin Perez pitched in back-to-back games Tuesday and Wednesday and notched saves in both games, giving him eight on the year. Perez allowed just one runner in the two games, issuing a walk in Wednesday night's win over Durham. Perez is 1-1, 3.71 on the season for the Red Barons.
How long will manager Gene Lamont be in Scranton? General manager Ed Wade called Allard Baird, his counterpart in Kansas City to put in a good work for Lamont regarding the Royals manager's job. Wade also told Baird that while he would hate to lose Lamont at Scranton, the Phillies certainly wouldn't try to stand in the way of Lamont managing in the majors. Some have Lamont as one of the leading candidates for a job that former Phillies manager Larry Bowa has openly campaigned for.
Reading Phillies 18-21 5.5 GB in Eastern League Southern Division.
Chris Roberson had his 13 game hitting streak snapped Wednesday night in Reading's 2-1 win over Binghamton. Roberson hit .350 (21-for-60) during the stretch. In his last 21 games, Roberson has hits in 18 of those games and is hitting .323 (30-for-93). Roberson is one of the players that should get some consideration for a promotion if all continues to go well.
With Roberson in center field Wednesday night, Michael Bourn was playing right. He saved the game with an awesome throw from the outfield to nail a runner at the plate late in the game. Bourn also went 2-for-4 and seems to be breaking out of a slump that saw him go 3-for-23 (.130) for Reading.
Seung Lee (2-0, 2.55) has looked good this season at Reading. Lee has made six starts and three relief appearances for the R-Phils and is pitching well. He threw six innings Wednesday night and allowed just one run. His control has been pretty good (13 walks in 35 1/3 innings) and opponents are hitting .244 against him. It will be interesting to watch Lee's progress and to see whether or not he gets promoted to AAA this season. He has pitched at Scranton in each of the last two seasons and has a 2-6, 5.76 record in 37 AAA games.
Clearwater Threshers 10-29 18.0 GB in Florida State League West.
You have to wonder if the folks in Clearwater are in need of a handyman. Erick Arteaga went on the DL with a laceration of his non-pitching hand. He suffered the injury in the showers at BrightHouse Networks Field when his hand hit a broken soap dish. Arteaga isn't the first player to be injured by the broken tile dish, two other players have suffered cuts, but Arteaga's has been the most severe. The cut required stitches. Now, we just have to wait and see if it finally gets fixed.
Clearwater added pitcher Chris Honsa to the roster to take Arteaga's place and Honsa came on to throw three shutout innings against Palm Beach in Clearwater's 10-4 win Wednesday night. Honsa was with Clearwater earlier in the season and is now 1-0, 5.87 in four games with the Threshers.
Cole Hamels hopes to be back with Clearwater before too long. The plan now figures to have Hamels throw a couple more bullpen sessions, spend some time doing simulated games and then maybe some work with the folks in extended camp. In a perfect world, Hamels could be activated in about ten days. He's had some stiffness, but the Phillies don't believe it's anything to be concerned about and figure it will get better as Hamels gets back into a regular routine. If things go well for Hamels in Clearwater, it's likely that he'll hit Reading before too long. Will he be added to the Phillies September roster? Not likely. He would have to completely blow away the competition for that to happen. Instead, he'll probably top out at Reading, come into camp next season and likely start at AAA much like the Phillies had wanted to do with Gavin Floyd this year.
Lakewood BlueClaws 14-26 12.0 GB in South Atlantic League Northern Division.
Lakewood has four players all on nice hitting streaks.
Ryan Frith has a six game streak going and is 9-for-25 (.360) during the streak. He also has hits in 10 of his last 12 games and is 15-for-43 (.349) in those games. Sam Orr currently has a seven game streak going and is 10-for-25 (.400) during the streak. Next is Chris Klemm, who is 11-for-29 (.379) with an eight game hitting streak. Mike Dzurilla has a nine game streak and is 16-for-39 (.410). Dzurilla has hits in 15 of his last 16 games and is 25-for-63 (.397) in those 16 games.
Andy Baldwin lowered his ERA under the 5.0 mark Wednesday night with 6 2/3 strong innings against Hagerstown. Baldwin picked up the win in Lakewood's 3-2 win over the Suns and is now 1-3 on the season. In Baldwin's last start, he gave up one earned run in five innings against Kannapolis, but got a no decision.
Lakewood scored a season high 13 runs against DelMarVa last Sunday, thanks in part to three RBI from Orr. Timi Moni was the only position player not to get a hit, going 0-for-3 in the game.