Five observations after a 7-2 win over the Marlins. . .
1) The five-run margin of victory is tied for the Phillies second largest of the season. Yes, it was the Marlins, who had Placido Polanco batting third and Greg Dobbs hitting cleanup. But the Phillies needed this one after scoring two runs in a two-game series in Cleveland. With a road trip through San Francisco and Arizona starting next week, the Phillies need to build up some good mojo this weekend over a team that they are clearly superior to.
2) Don't take this as anything other than what it is: an observation that happened to jibe with what the data ended up saying, and thus worthy of a note on this blog. During the ninth inning last night, I thought to myself, "Self, is it just me, or is Jonathan Papelbon's arm not moving as fast as it used to." I checked out his average velocity on his fastball over the past three years on FanGraphs.com, and it has dropped from 95 MPH in 2011 to 94 in 2012 to 92 this season. Again, don't read that as me being an alarmist. The results are still there, the location is still there, and he wouldn't be the first power pitcher to lose a couple of ticks on his fastball. And the extra juice might still be there. He just might not be using it. Anyway, I felt it was worth noting.
3) Kyle Kendrick is making me a believer. He might not be a 2.43 ERA pitcher, but his sinker was sitting consistently at 90-91 last night, and his changeup looked really good. He was up in the zone a lot during his first couple of innings, which often spells trouble for him. And maybe it would have against a better hitting team. But he has an out pitch now in his changeup, and over the first month of this season and the last couple of last season he has looked like a guy who can at least be a very good No. 4 starter. The consistency will dictate how effective he is over the course of a season, but he has the stuff now.
4) Domonic Brown is hitting .387 with two doubles and two home runs over his last eight games and his OPS is now at .759 (to put that in perspective, Raul Ibanez's OPS was .752 in his final two seasons with the Phillies). A couple of 0-for-4's and that number will drop significantly, but it is one positive sign for this Phillies offense. He is the lineup's greatest potential for improvement.
5) Michael Young's double in the bottom of the first inning was his first extra base hit since April 10 against the Mets. Charlie Manuel batted Young third and Chase Utley second against the Marlins, something he appears increasingly willing to do. Also, it will be interesting to see what Manuel continues to do with his center field situation. One play I marked down on my scorecard was Marcell Ozuna's double in the second inning. Mayberry had no shot at it -- it was over his head and ended up bouncing on the warning track, but Ben Revere has tracked down tougher balls this season, and if you forced me to put money on whether he would have chased down that one, I would have said yes. The run did not end up scoring. But against a better team that could easily have been a situation where having Revere in center field over Mayberry ends up preventing at least one run and maybe more. Five