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Chase Utley the Lone Bright Spot as Phillies Drop Season Opener

The Phillies dropped the 2013 season opener in Atlanta to the Braves by a score of 7-5, behind an uncharacteristically-shaky outing from Cole Hamels. Hamels allowed five runs on three home runs in five innings of work and didn’t look very sharp, as Paul Boye pointed out:


Chad Durbin, too, failed to impress, allowing all three batters he faced to reach base, ballooning the Braves’ lead from 5-3 to 7-3, allowing what ended up being the winning runs. Michael Young looked poor defensively, but we’ll give him another shot on Wednesday to redeem himself.

The good news is that Chase Utley, robbed of his last three seasons due to a barrage of injury problems, looked fantastic in the first game of the season. He hit a home run to straightaway center field off of Tim Hudson in the fourth and tripled in the seventh, finishing a double shy of the cycle.

Seeing Utley’s power back is great. His isolated power (slugging percentage minus batting average) hovered between .219 and .249 from 2005-09. As the injuries cut into his production, his ISO dropped to .169, .166, and .173 over the last three seasons. As mentioned in my “bold prediction” post last week, an injury-riddled Utley was still among the most productive players at his position over the last few years. Of the many things the Phillies need to go right this season, Utley enjoying a healthy, productive 2013 is at the top of the list.

As for dropping the season opener, it’s not a big deal. The Phillies lost the season opener in each of the 2007-09 seasons and they turned out just fine. Similarly, Hamels has traditionally had poor results from his first start of the year:

Date Tm Opp Rslt App,Dec IP H R BB SO HR GSc
2012-04-09 PHI MIA L 2-6 GS-6 ,L 5.1 8 4 0 9 1 47
2011-04-05 PHI NYM L 1-7 GS-3 ,L 2.2 7 6 2 3 0 21
2010-04-07 PHI WSN W 8-4 GS-5 ,W 5.0 5 3 4 5 1 48
2009-04-10 PHI COL L 3-10 GS-4 ,L 3.2 11 7 1 1 1 11
2008-04-02 PHI WSN L 0-1 GS-8 ,L 8.0 5 1 2 6 1 72
2007-04-04 PHI ATL L 2-3 GS-7 7.0 4 0 1 8 0 76
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/1/2013.

Game graph courtesy FanGraphs.