The Philadelphia Phillies have wasted the return of two superstars already. In fact, Phillies fans like myself can argue that they've been worse since Chase Utley and Ryan Howard came back. The tone was set when Philadelphia lost Utley's first game back in a slugfest on June 27, followed by getting shut out in Howard's comeback on July 6. But the third time was the charm with Roy Halladay's reemergence on July 17, even if he didn't get the win.
In fact, Halladay's one bad inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers looked to be enough to doom the Phillies. Yet Philadelphia bailed him out in the eighth inning to secure their second straight 3-2 win over the Dodgers, and their fourth straight victory as a whole.
Utley had a home run in his first at-bat back, while Howard had two hits in his return. For Halladay, he was limited to five innings in his comeback, as it will take a while for him to eat up innings like in the old days. But in those five innings, he only ran into big trouble in the second, as the Dodgers put together four straight hits and got two runs out of it.
Those two runs held up for most of the game while the Phillies could only muster one. Yet with the score 2-1 in the eighth, Philadelphia loaded up the bases on the strength of a walk and two hit batsmen. However, Hunter Pence then finally got an actual hit, which was enough to give his team the lead and the victory.
Although Pence was the hero, the big story was Halladay holding up in his first start back. Still he didn't get the win and was very close to losing due to one bad inning - the kind he was starting to suffer too much of before he got injured. Since Utley and Howard are still taking a while to get back into form, Halladay's progress will likely be just as slow - despite the Phillies' need to have all three of them get hot now.
At least the team is looking hot on paper, with a rare four-game winning streak under its belt. With Philadelphia now fully healthy for the first time all season - and getting to face teams like the last place Colorado Rockies and the struggling Dodgers - things are looking a little better at the moment. But that 1-11 slide the Phillies went on right after Utley's return may still be enough to kill this season.
It would be nice if Philadelphia went on an 11-1 run after Halladay's activation to balance it out, since little else may help in the long run. Since everyone is back and this finally looks like the team that won five straight NL East titles - on paper, anyway - that sort of run should be more possible now.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident who has followed the Phillies since he was eight years old.
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