So the Phillies lost on Opening Day...again. The loss should come as no surprise considering they are now 8-16 in the last 24 Opening Days. But it was just one loss and there were plenty of positives to give us some reason for optimism. Here's a glance at the good and the bad from Opening Day.
The biggest positive was glaringly obviously to anyone: Chase Bleepin' Utley. Wow, did Chase look good or what last night?!
Utley went 3-for-5 with a single, triple, homer, and 3 RBI in his first Opening Day since 2010. A nice box score for Chase is secondary to the fact that he looked damn good in the process. Utley's 400+ foot blast to dead center is a really, really good sign. It not only shows that he is healthy, but it shows that he has regained his leg strength and potential for power.
If his knees are still bothering him, he sure faked it well. Utley took an extra base on his RBI single and even legged out a triple later in the game. It gives us reason to believe that he is capable of more than simply surviving a full season.
I am still under no illusion to expect the old Chase Utley to show up this season. In fact, if my dream the other night in which Utley busted up his ankle was any indication, it is still just a matter of time before he returns to his new home on the DL. But, at least for one night, the Phils' second baseman closely resembled Chase Utley from his prime.
If Opening Day was any indication, fans are going to quickly fall in love with Ben Revere.
Ben Revere has been the quintessential leadoff hitter in his brief career...almost. His high batting average and blazing speed makes him the perfect candidate for a leadoff hitter, but he does not work nearly enough walks and does not take enough pitches. That is the book on Revere. Benny must not be much of a reader because he told a starkly different story last night.
Revere took the first pitch in every at-bat, averaged six pitches per plate appearance, and impressed everyone with a 12 pitch walk reminiscent of Richie Ashburn. He finished the night with a great line for a leadoff hitter: 1-for-4 with a walk, stolen base, and a run scored.
Opening Day showed how nice the top of the lineup can potentially look with Revere one and Rollins two. If Revere can run deep counts and work walks like he did, it gives the Phillies the prototypical leadoff hitter they have been lacking for quite some time. The way I see it, the formula is simple: get on base, steal second, get ‘em over, get ‘em in. Revere can complete that formula much better than Jimmy Rollins at this point in his career.
And with a legit leadoff hitter in front of him, Rollins fits perfectly into the two hole. Jimmy can pull the ball much better from the left side than Revere, making him a better candidate to create more first-and-third situations. With Jimmy's ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark and drive the ball for extra-base-hits, having Revere in front of him gives Rollins a chance to knock in quite a few more runs.
I will let the box score do the talking for the two obvious ones.
Cole Hamels: 5 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 3 HR
Chad Durbin: 0 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 1 BB
The other negative will be more of a lingering problem. Michael Young did not look good at third. Young lacked good instincts and looked old and stiff at third. On one play he dove for a ball that Polanco would have made look routine. On another, he bobbled a grounder and threw a one-hopper to Howard at first. It could be a long year at the hot corner. On the bright side, he might make Frandsen look like Mike Schmidt.
With a sample size of one, we have the luxury to look for the positives. But too many losses to NL East teams can change that quickly.
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