Sunday, July 04, 2004

Phils Phlourish on Phourth

Two years ago today, I attended one of the more excruciating Phillies losses I've ever seen (which is saying something): on July 4, 2002, in front of a surprisingly sparse crowd at boiling hot Veterans Stadium, the Phils were within one strike of a win over the Montreal Expos before Brad Wilkerson torched Jose Mesa for a two-run homer off the right-field foul pole to lift Montreal to the victory. Not even the Jamba Juice I picked up at the Fresh Foods on South Street really redeemed the day.

The team had better luck this afternoon at Citizens Bank Park, knocking off Baltimore 5-2 to take a 2 1/2 game lead on the Mets and Marlins (both winning as I write this) and tie their high-water mark for the year by going six games over .500. Eric Milton won his league-best 11th game despite 12 fewer runs of support than he had in last Tuesday's 17-7 win, while Bobby Abreu went 2-4 with a homer, a double and three RBI. Abreu is now hitting .304 with 17 home runs and 56 knocked in for the season, and he's among the league leaders in runs scored, steals and walks as well. His OPS is over 1.000 for the year. And yet I don't expect Phils-phobic National League all-star manager Jack McKeon of Florida to give Bobby a well-deserved spot on the team. (Thome is a near-lock, Milton could make it despite his high ERA, and Billy Wagner could go just because McKeon, in theory, would like to win the game and Wags is the best lefty short man in the league.)

Here's hoping I'm wrong, but either way, Abreu is on pace to pick up some down-ballot MVP votes and turn in one of the best all-around offensive seasons in the team's 121-year history. Not too shabby.

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