Philly Sports Live

Week 1 In Review

The first week of the 2014 season brought many surprises for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Both good and bad.

Scoring runs has been the Achilles heel of this club for the better part of two seasons. Phillies’ pitching has been forced to make due with very little run support, which brings tons of added pressure.

The Phils finished the 2014 Spring hitting just above .200 as a team. With sub-par offseason acquisitions, all of this figured to amount to a team stumbling out of the gate come opening day.

Not so.

The Phils managed to score 14 runs on 17 hits against the Texas Rangers this past Monday.

They batted around twice in the game, and every single hitter managed to get on base at least once. They also had six walks as team, with three coming in the second inning alone. Keep in mind that the Phillies recorded three walks in a single inning only six times in 2013.

Skipper Ryne Sandberg and his coaching staff have made an impact thus far in guys making contact and getting on base.

An unexpected bright spot this week was the pinch hitting of John Mayberry, Jr. Though he hit well for most of the Spring, Mayberry has been exposed the last few years as a rather unproductive everyday player.

However, Ryno has used Mayberry to perfection so far as a pinch hitter. He went 2-2 with a home run and four runs batted in off the bench this week. The potential for production like that coming off the bench could be a shot in the arm for a bench that is sorely lacking.

The Phils as a team are hitting .300 on the nose so far, good for fourth in Major League Baseball. They are fifth in MLB in runs scored with 26 (though subtract opening day and it’s only 12), and also fifth in hits with 45.

The Phillies’ pitching staff has enjoyed similar success in the early going…sort of. With a 6-0 lead on Monday, Cliff Lee managed to give up eight earned runs on 11 hits in just five innings of work. In doing so, he became the first pitcher since Woody Williams to allow eight or more runs on opening day and still get credited with the win. The Phils ace has a very inflated 14.40 earned run average so far, and will look to rebound this afternoon at Wrigley Field.

A.J. Burnett, Kyle Kendrick and Roberto Hernandez all turned in solid outings in their respective starts this week. Burnett & Kendrick each allowed only one run while Hernandez gave up two. All three held the opposition in check for the duration of their starts, giving the Phils a chance to win. Unfortunately for them, the Phillies bullpen could not hold those leads.

This season’s Achilles heel might just be that bullpen. The Phillie relievers were handed a 2-1 lead on Tuesday night and a 3-1 advantage Wednesday night, but failed to hold either lead.

Mario Hollands, a left-handed jack of all trades made his major league debut Tuesday in a 2-2 game in the ninth, and allowed the tying run to reach base. B.J. Rosenberg allowed the game winning hit, but Hollands was saddled with the loss.

Wednesday night saw closer Jonathan Papelbon inherit a 3-1 ninth inning lead, only to blow his first save opportunity of 2014, allowing three runs to Texas. He did induce two ground balls with one out, but the runners reached base both times. He then walked in the game winning run. His ERA stands at 20.25 after 1 1/3 innings pitched in 2014.

The fact is, with how little they’ve hit the last few seasons, this pitching staff has to shut the door late in games and make the lead stand up. No blame can be placed on a dormant offense right now, and the team frankly should be undefeated heading into today’s matinee in Chicago.

Still, the positives outweigh the negatives so far.

The team must work on getting the wins to outweigh the losses.

Stats Courtesy of Phillies.com

Photo Courtesy of NJ.com