Charlie Manuel’s biggest flaw may also be his biggest strength.
He never loses faith. He’s fiercely loyal.
Even after the first four games, the fan base was screaming for lineup changes. A 1-3 start for a team with World Series aspirations will do that, even with injuries to Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.
The Phillies managed eight runs in the first four games with a miniscule .198 batting average. No need to worry. There was a seven-run, 14-hit explosion in a 7-1 victory over the Marlins Wednesday night at chilly Citizens Bank Park.
“I know this, you can’t keep changing the lineup every day,” Manuel said. “You have to give someone a chance to get going.”
That they did. Lost in the offense was another stellar performance by staff ace Roy Halladay. The steady right-hander tossed seven strong innings, allowed one run and improved to 2-0. In his 31 career starts with the Phillies following a loss, Halladay is now 20-7 with a 2.27 ERA.
When you have a club that can trot out the likes of Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Vance Worley, well, that can mask a whole lot of offensive deficiencies — at leat until the big boppers return from the disabled list.
“We’re a confident group regardless of what’s out there,” Halladay said. “After the first few games, the offense was taking some heat. It’s good to score some runs and show that it’s there. We’re not going to score seven runs every night, but it’s nice to know that it’s there like it was tonight.”
While this 2012 version doesn’t feature the power of the previous five straight National League East division title teams, it’s still quite formidable. And aside from the starters, there’s Jonathan Papelbon waiting to close out games.
Pitching wins. Just look at last season when the Cardinals ousted the Phillies 1-0 in Game 5 of the NLDS. With no timetable for Howard and Utley, the Phillies must grind out some wins. With a pitching staff as stingy as this one, it can be done. In the meantime, you can bet Manuel will continue to show confidence in his offense.
“As I’ve said all along, it’s a long season,” center fielder Shane Victorino said. “When you’re scoring runs, it’s happiness all around. When you’re not scoring runs, not everybody is happy. We have the ability and we believe in ourselves. Charlie believes in us and we’re going to stay confident.”
Freddy, Freddy, Freddy
Rookie Freddy Galvis, the fill-in for Chase Utley at second base, got a clutch hit for the second game in a row. On Wednesday night, he ripped a two-run double to right field in the third inning to give the Phillies a 5-1 lead as the Phillies faithful chanted his first name. It marked the second straight game Galvis delivered a two-run double.
Playing at a packed house
File this under the category of ho-hum. The Phillies welcomed a crowd of 45,359 to Citizens Bank Park on Opening Night. It was the 206th straight regular-season sellout and the 222nd overall sellout, including postseason play.
Let’s play one more
The Phillies and Marlins will close out their three-game series, which is tied 1-1, Thursday night in South Philly. Left-hander Mark Buehrle (0-1, 3.00 ERA) gets the start for the Fish against Phillies right-hander Joe Blanton (0-1, 13.50 ERA – 2011 stats are in relief). The game is the first $1 hot dog night of the 2012 season.