But their 13-19 home record might not be an anomaly, might indeed have its foundation not in nervous young players and new faces needing to settle down, but in the basic disadvantage of playing in a power-friendly park with a power-starved lineup.
"Our ballpark is made for power," Charlie Manuel said Tuesday before the Phillies opened a 10-game homestand. "And in saying that, look at every lineup in the American and National League. If you go look, I guarantee you that somewhere down in that order, they've got not one power guy but they have a combination of power guys like from 3, 4, 5 down to even 6. Sometimes even in the two-hole.''
Well, not every lineup. The once-mighty Rockies are an exception. They have a three- or five-hole guy batting cleanup in Michael Cuddyer, and the rest of the lineup combining for 31 home runs. Sound familiar? Other than Cuddyer, signed in the offseason to a 3-year, $31.5 million deal, their established veterans have struggled and their young players have wilted under the everyday exposure.
Again, sound familiar?
But the basic point is valid. There are plenty of ballparks where the small ball that was preached all spring would work better than here. You saw that in the Phillies' series win in Minnesota and perhaps in their earlier sweep of the banged-up, power-deprived Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Both of those places are known for big outfields with cavernous alleys and, although there were an inordinate number of home runs hit in the Twins series — thank you, Jim Thome — there sure was a lot of running around in the outfield, too.
“If you saw us play those games with Thome," Manuel said. "I think he made a big difference in our offense. He brought a different look to our lineup. And the other everyday guys really enjoyed having him in the lineup."
The difference Tuesday was John Mayberry Jr.'s two-out, two-run home run against Colorado starter Josh Outman in the fourth inning. The icing was a two-run blast by Carlos Ruiz in the seventh. A 1-1 game became a 3-1 game after Mayberry's blast and Cole Hamels, again without the precise control that marked his ridiculous May, was dominant enough to go eight innings and get his 10th victory of the season.
After allowing five of the first nine Rockies batters to reach base, Hamels retired 13 in a row before a two-out walk to Todd Helton created a minor disturbance in the sixth. Jordan Pacheco broke his bat singling to short center. Chris Nelson followed with a two-strike rip that Shane Victorino cut off before the warning track and fired back to Jimmy Rollins well ahead of Nelson for the third out. In the eighth, Rollins went deep into the hole to backhand Helton's grounder and fired to Ty Wigginton to get the out.
It was the kind of defense that has made both these guys Gold Glovers, the one thing they are still capable of doing even in these worst of times.
How bad are the times? Well, you found yourself, after the latest update on Chase Utley and the disturbing announcement of a 50-game drug suspension for broken-backed Freddy Galvis, uttering these words:
"Thank God, Michael Martinez is healthy again."
Once upon a time, Mayberry batted fifth and Ruiz seventh, but that deck was shuffled long ago. "You can move yourself in a lineup," Manuel said after Tuesday's game. "That's kind of what John does." Mayberry, who doubled in the eighth, is now the surprise power in the back of the lineup, and Ruiz — well, Chooch is now The Man, pumping his fist as he rolled around the bases, getting his helmet hammered by an exuberant Thome at the top of the dugout steps. Before the game, Ruben Amaro said that Utley could come back sooner than expected and that Howard was running the bases again. Manuel also confessed that he had realistically hoped his team could be around .500 when he made his lineup whole again.
And if they didn't have to play at home, maybe they would be.
But here's the hope: Mayberry, as the chart in Wednesday's paper details, has a career slugging percentage of .576 after May 31. If Ruiz' hot start becomes a hot season, if Utley and or Howard are any semblance of themselves, this may still become a lineup that takes advantage of its power-friendly confines.
Contact Sam Donnellon at firstname.lastname@example.org. For recent columns, go to www.philly.com/SamDonnellon.