After Friday's game, a Phillies fan could be forgiven for being a little nervous going into Sunday's. It was a win, but it was a win that seemed like a semi-fluke, requiring Charlie Manuel to spend the bullpen and coming on the basis of production from unexpected players. Saturday's 8-4 victory over the Pirates, however, was a reassuring and comfortable one.
Ryan Howard did what we had hoped in vain so many times already this season that he would do: he drove himself and Chase Utley in with a two-run homer. Has he finally returned to form? Was it just a fluke? That's impossible to say at this point, but it was very sweet to see. If he does keep producing it will start to look as if the decision not to start him for two games was quite a wise one.
A comedy of errors allowed to Phillies to extend the inning for three more unearned runs, and it would turn out that five was just the magic number that they would need for their cushion.
Chase Utley continued his offensive leadership, with a walk, two hits, and two runs scored in this game, and Jayson Werth and Pedro Feliz also maintained their recent production by contributing back-to-back doubles in the two-run seventh. If Feliz continues to pinch hit this well, he will give Manuel some breathing room as far as whom to start at third base. It's difficult to think of pencilling Greg Dobbs into the lineup when one knows how valuable a player he can be in a pinch situation.
Kyle Kendrick provided another quality start and looked quite good this evening. Pittsburgh is a weaker team and one the Phillies should be beating, so it's good to see that they are using this series to build some consistency and good patterns while they win.