Thursday, July 08, 2004


I was remiss this week in not exhorting the however many people who read this to stuff the virtual ballot box in favor of Phils RF Bobby Abreu, who was one of five guys eligible for the final slot on the National League all-star roster. I probably cast a couple hundred votes for Abreu myself, and he narrowly beat out the also-deserving Cubs 3b Aramis Ramirez (or as I like to call him, "Aram-ram"). Abreu is on pace to go 30/30, score about 130 runs and hit .300 with well over 100 walks, which would be the best season of Bobby's eight-year career.

Tonight, he gave some love back to the fans, almost single-handedly carrying the Phils to a thrilling 5-4 win over the Mets and a split in the four-game series despite being thoroughly outplayed by the suddenly impressive Metropolitans. Abreu went 4 for 5 with two doubles, the game-tying single in the 7th and a walk-off home run, his 18th of the season, against John Franco in the bottom of the 9th. Franco had previously allowed just six hits in 54 at-bats against lefty hitters this season, though Abreu has always hit the forty-something reliever pretty well.

This was a great win for the Phils, particularly after twice taking the lead--on Jim Thome's two-run homer and then on Abreu's second double--only to see supposed ace Kevin Millwood give it right back in the following inning. Millwood walked Mets starting pitcher Matt Ginter to lead off the 5th, then gave up a two-out hit to Cliff Floyd that tied it. After Abreu put the Phils back up, Millwood surrendered a leadoff single to Ty Wigginton in the 6th, then served up a meatball that Mike Cameron crushed for a two-run blast and a 4-3 New York lead. It was like Millwood couldn't give it back fast enough. The bullpen was excellent again, however, as Rheal Cormier put out the fire later in the inning, Madson followed with two scoreless--getting a big double play with a guy at third in the 7th to keep it a one-run game--and Billy Wagner set the Mets down in the 9th. In the Phils' wins Monday and tonight, the bullpen tossed a combined 8 scoreless innings. Considering we've gotten something like two quality starts in the last month, they've done a very commendable job.

But tonight belonged to Abreu, who has been out of his mind for the last month: six homers, six steals, 28 runs scored, 21 RBI and a Bonds-esque on-base percentage of .500. He's in the league top ten in about six different categories, and finally starting to shut up the talk-radio blowhards and other philistines who have ragged on the guy for five years. In an alternately exciting and frustrating season for the Phils, he's the best story going, and probably the team's MVP to this point.

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