The question has been raised in recent days: how, in this year of all years, have the Phillies managed to escape April with a winning record? They are 15-12 meaning the worst they can finish this month is 15-13. It's the first time since 2003 they'll be above .500 heading into may.
Is it Chase Utley? Is it Pat Burrell? Is it the bull-pen?
How about this - is it Charlie Manuel?
The guy's taken plenty of grief over the past three years from sports fans in this town, mainly for not being Jim Leyland. But he's done a remarkable job of compensating for the losses of Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino, particularly over the past two weeks. He's used 21 different batting orders in 28 games, not including pitchers. By comparison, the Mets have used 14 and the Braves have used 12.
He faced plenty of pre-game questions last night. I'll recap some of them. . .
PRE-GAME QUESTION: Why was Eric Bruntlett batting second?
IN HINDSIGHT: Bruntlett reached in the first on a walk and stole second, which put him in position to score the Phillies first run. He drove in their second run in the third inning.
PRE-GAME QUESTION: Why start struggling right-hander Pedro Feliz at third over hot-hitting lefty Greg Dobbs?
IN HINDSIGHT: Feliz had a big RBI in the eighth inning (though, to be fair, Dobbs also had an RBI double as a pinch-hitter)
PRE-GAME QUESTION: Why start Carlos Ruiz over Chris Coste?
IN HIND SIGHT: Ruiz caught a great game from Cole Hamels and also went 2-for-4 with 2 RBI and 2 runs scored
PRE-GAME QUESTION: Why start Jayson Werth in center and Geoff Jenkins in right, rather than Victorino in center and Werth in right, or Werth in center and Victorino in right?
IN HIND SIGHT: Werth was largely responsible for two runs, tripling and scoring and then driving one in on a sacrifice fly. Jenkins went 1-for-3.
Half of the Phillies' regulars - Feliz, Ruiz, Bruntlett and Ryan Howard - are batting under .250. Two more supposed regulars, Victorino and Rollins, have missed more games than they've played. Three of the team's five starters have an ERA of over 5.00. The bull-pen has one less victory than the entire starting rotation. Yet the Phillies are winning. Seven of their last nine, to be exact.
Would the Phillies be where they are without Manuel?
Just something to chew on. . .