Saturday, April 19, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

The positive? Chase Utley's bat is awake

Chase Utley celebrated his first Opening Day in three seasons with three hits, including a home run, in Phillies defeat in Atlanta.

The positive? Chase Utley's bat is awake

Utley´s bat has been alive for the last two weeks. (David Goldman/AP)
Utley's bat has been alive for the last two weeks. (David Goldman/AP)

There was a lot not to like if you were a Phillies fan tuned in to one of the most highly anticipated games of any season -- Opening Day.

Cole Hamels continued his odd trend of starting the season with a thud. Although he's pitched brilliantly in postseason openers, Hamels, for whatever reason, tend to struggle in his first regular season start each year and Monday night was no different in serving up three home runs to the Braves.

Chad Durbin, who took over for Hamels, wasn't very good either. While the Phillies offense did a fine job of crawling back into the game, Durbin blew any momentum they were builing by giving up two runs without retiring a batter in the sixth.

Although no errors were committed (beware ever judging defense on stats), the gloves weren't that great either. Michael Young failed to corrall a hard ground ball up the line (inexplicably ruled a double), he bounced an easy throw to first base later (Ryan Howard saved it), Howard threw a ball wide of home and Domonic Brown bobbled a ball in left.

But wait, there was at least one reason to feel good about the first game of the season if you're a depressed Phillies fan.

Chase Utley.

Utley, who hadn't played in either of the last two Opening Days while battling chronic knee pain, went 3-for-5. He was a double away from hitting for the cycle.

Utley's home run was the 200th of his career and he ran so hard to leg out his triple that you wondered if this could possibly be the same guy who missed most of the first half of the last two seasons with knee problems.

"Same guy," Utley said.

Utley's bat has been alive for the last two weeks. Including the final nine exhibition games he played in, Utley is batting .389 (14-for-36) with 5 home runs, two doubles, a triple and 14 RBI in his last 10 games.

"I feel strong," Utley said. "I still think there’s room for improvement. That’s the whole goal."

Ryan Lawrence Daily News Staff Writer
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