Chase Utley Is On Fire (Don’t Put Him Out!)

I don’t mean to alarm you, but Chase Utley is on fire. He’s hot, and I don’t mean aesthetically. Utley has hit safely in all eight games he as played in to start the 2014 season, and now has a 13-game hitting streak dating back to last season. In five of his eight games thus far, he has at least two hits; he’s had three hits in two games. Overall, he is enjoying a .469/.541/.750 slash line in 37 trips to the plate. Despite being a 35-year-old baseball player, it appears Utley still has plenty left in the tank.

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The Phillies Will Face Jose Fernandez Friday Night — Appreciate It

The Phillies are on a four-game losing streak and are coming off of a series sweep at the hands of the Milwaukee Brewers. Just about everything that could go wrong did go wrong. The defense was awful, as 10 of the 52 runs the Phillies have allowed this season have been unearned. The bullpen has been unreliable, posting an aggregate 5.40 ERA. Even the offense has disappeared, with the Phillies averaging 3.25 runs per game during their losing streak.

There’s plenty of frustration among Phillies fans and those in the media and it’s unlikely to be squelched tonight when the Phillies open up a three-game set with the Florida Marlins because Jose Fernandez will be on the mound.

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Ryne Sandberg Says Ryan Howard’s Knee Injury Still Limiting Defense

In the top of the eighth inning on Wednesday, first baseman Ryan Howard misplayed a Logan Schafer ground ball that allowed a run to score to break a 4-4 tie. Schafer would come around to score on Ryan Braun‘s triple later in the inning as well, meaning the error was a costly one. After the game, manager Ryne Sandberg said that Howard’s knee injury — he tore his meniscus in early July last season — is still bothering him. Via CSN Philly’s Reuben Frank:

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Roberto Hernandez’s Bat-Missing Game Was on Point

Roberto Hernandez allowed four runs (three earned) over five innings in last night’s start against the Brewers. Not a great start, not a bad start. Considering last night’s bullpen implosion in the eighth and ninth innings, Hernandez’s performance was about the ninth- or tenth-most interesting thing about the game. But broadcaster Tom McCarthy pointed out something after Hernandez had exited the game that made me go back and listen to make sure I heard it right:

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Patience Required with Phillies’ Young Bullpen

The Phillies’ bullpen was yet again a major factor in a loss. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Through eight games, it’s a sentence that is already getting tiresome to write out, particularly since the Phillies are coming off of a season in which they finished with the second-worst bullpen in the National League with a 4.19 ERA. Following last night’s five-run firebombing that put the game under lock and key for the Brewers, the bullpen ERA stands at 4.94.

A quick recap of the performances:

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Ryan Braun Continues to Kill the Phillies

Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun entered yesterday’s game with absurd career numbers against the Phillies. His 1.120 OPS against them in in 186 plate appearances was his highest against any team against which he has accrued at least 30 PA. The whole line: .386/.430/.690, 66 H, 8 2B, 1 3B, 14 HR, 30 RBI, 6 SB, 14 BB, 30 K.

Against yesterday’s starter, Kyle Kendrick, Braun entered with a career .944 OPS in 18 trips to the plate. I wonder what happened.

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Cole Hamels Could Return Sooner Than Anticipated

Good news, everyone! CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that Cole Hamels “feels great” and could need only two more rehab starts before returning to the team. The Inquirer’s Matt Gelb says Hamels is shooting for April 22 against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. Hamels has been rehabbing after missing spring training with tendonitis in his left shoulder.

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