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August 7 2007

Oh, if only wishing made it so.  Maybe it is in Baltimore, in which case I consider it blatant, preemptive propaganda thirty years before the fact in a shameless effort to get Pat Burrell to accept a trade to the Orioles.  That's just not right.

Many, many things went right in July as the Phils put together their best month of the season.  Here's a look at how many runs the team has scored and allowed by month this season:

 

Month W-L R NL Rank R R/G RA NL Rank RA RA/G
April 11-14 123 4 4.92 121 13 4.84
May 15-13 151 1 5.39 141 13 5.04
June 15-13 143 4 5.11 166 16 5.93
July 15-10 161 1 6.44 108 4 4.32
August 2-3 28 T-6 5.60 25 8 5.00
               
Total 58-53 606 1 5.46 561 12 5.05

In July, the offense exploded and the Phillies got their best pitching of the year.  The offense had been good for a while after a sluggish start, but the pitchers were tremendous.  Ryan Madson appeared in ten games in July, throwing to an 0.61 ERA in 14 2/3 innings.  JC Romero threw to a 1.42 ERA in six games.  Jose Mesa pitched 11 2/3 innings and posted a 2.38 ERA.  Cole Hamels went 3-1 with a 2.31 ERA in his six starts, Kyle Kendrick 3-1 with a 3.58 ERA in his six.  JD Durbin arrived on the scene, appearing in six games, three of which were starts, and going 3-1 with a 2.92 ERA.

The thing that's most surprising to me about that list is how many of those guys are ones you wouldn't have expected to be contributing.  Romero.  Mesa.  Kendrick.  Durbin.  We've seen Madson pitch well in the past, but I don't remember him having a month like that before (had to look it up -- in April of 2004, Madson wasn't charged with an earned run in 11 2/3 innings).  The Phillies needed to create a pitching staff out of materials commonly found in the home -- they did it and deserve credit for it.

If the guys getting it done on the pitching side in July were surprising, the guys that led the Phils to their best offensive month of the year weren't with perhaps one exception.  Pat Burrell was the NL's best hitter, he posted a 1.332 OPS in July.  He hit 435/564/768 with six home runs in 69 at-bats.  He was on fire, but he had a lot of help.  Ryan Howard wasn't far behind -- Howard hit 323/443/698 with ten home runs last month.  He drove in an NL-leading 29 runs.  Rowand, Utley, Rollins and Victorino were also tremendously effective offensive players, of that group Victorino posted the lowest OPS in July (937) and he hit 340/404/534. 

The Phillies scored about 6.44 runs per game in July.  If they scored runs at that rate over an entire season they would score 1,043 runs.  Since 1900, seven teams have scored more than 1,000 runs in a year (old article here about 1,000 run offenses -- nobody has scored 1,000 runs since 1999 and nobody is on pace to this season).  Only three times has a team scored 1,043 runs or more in a season.  They Yankees did it in 1930, '31 and '36.

The Phillies allowed about 4.32 runs per game.  If they allowed runs at that rate over an entire season they would allow about 700. 

Just about everything went well for the Phillies in July (apologies to Chase Utley's hand, Ryan Madson's shoulder and Joe Thurston).  If you're looking for a problem, I think it's this:  in a month where the Phillies offense was by far the best in the National League and they were fourth-best at preventing runs, they "only" went 15-10.

The Phils lost ten games in July.

On July 2, Moyer pitched well put the pen gave up four walks in the seventh inning, forcing in two runs.  The Phils lost 7-5.

On July 3 they lost the game after Carlos Lee was called safe on the double-play that should have ended the game.

They looked completely dead in the series against the Rockies before the All-Star break, dropping two of three.  In the July 6 game they couldn't hold a 6-1 lead and lost 7-6 in eleven innings. 

On July 15, 16 and 31 they lost cause their starting pitchers were just blown out.  Eaton on the 15th at home against St Louis, Moyer on the 16th in Los Angeles and Eaton again on July 31, this time in Chicago. 

On July 19, Cole Hamels was brilliant, holding the Padres to a run on two hits over seven innings, but Chris Young was better and the Phils lost 1-0. 

On July 18 and July 26 the lost close games after getting mediocre starts from Kendrick and Eaton. 

Five of the ten games they lost in July they lost by one run.  In eight of the ten games they had a lead at one point in the game.  Two of the ten they lost in extra-innings.

The problem for the Phillies is that they've almost certainly had their best month of the season, and they played five games over .500.  Given how well their hitters hit and their pitchers pitched, I think you can make the case that the Phillies could have expected to do even a little better.

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