Full disclosure: I'm not traveling with the team on this 10-game road trip. Feels a little weird. It's the first West Coast trip I've missed since I started covering the Phillies in 2008. But the times, they are a-changin', and given the new cooperative here at 400 N. Broad, Matt Gelb is flying solo for the next 10 days. But we'll still be blogging away, starting with last night's 5-2 victory over Tim Lincecum and the Giants.
With that said, here are four things worth noting from last night's win. . .
1) While the loss of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard is the number one contributor to the Phillies' drop in power, they have also seen a decline in extra base production from several of their healthy regulars. In fact, Placido Polanco's first-inning double was his first extra base hit since Sept. 25, 2011 at Citi Field. Including the 2011 postseason, Polanco had gone 66 plate appearances without and extra base hit. During that stretch, he went 11-for-64 with two walks.
From June 28 of last season until the start of last night's game, Polanco had three doubles and one home run in 246 plate appearances. Last April alone he had seven doubles and two home runs in 114 plate appearances.
Since 2007, Polanco's slugging percentage has dropped from .458 to .417 to .396 to .386 in his first season with the Phillies to .339 in 2011.
The Phillies certainly expect to see more power out of Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino, who entered last night having combined for two extra base hits in 78 plate appearances.
Freddy Galvis' double last night gave him the team lead with four extra base hits. Carlos Ruiz and Hunter Pence are tied at second with three apiece.
2) There was some talk on Twitter last night about Roy Halladay's velocity, which according to MLB.com's pitchFx and the stadium gun was sitting 87-88 MPH on his cutter and 89-90 on his sinker. By comparison, Halladay's cutter was clocking 90-91 MPH in his first start last year, and his sinker was 91-92. So I guess it is worth noting. But I wouldn't panic. For whatever reason, velocity readings seem to be down across the league. C.C. Sabathia, Justin Verlander, Cole Hamels -- all are down according to pitchFx data. The movement and location on Halladay's pitches seem to be there. And, of course, the results are there. Long story short, it really is nothing more than a mild curiosity at this point.
3) Probably worth keeping your eye on Polanco. The veteran third baseman appeared to be in considerable pain after he was hit on the left elbow with a pitch in the seventh inning. Head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan checked him out and Polanco remained in the game, but it is worth circling the date on your calendar in case the elbow turns out to be a problem later on. That's how the 2010 season played out. Polanco was hit on the elbow with a Tim Hudson pitch in late-April, and the elbow ended up becoming a problem.
4) With Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain on deck, this clearly has a chance to be a low-scoring series. Which is why it is worth noting that Jonathan Papelbon recorded the save last night one day after throwing 26 pitches in the ninth inning of an 8-2 win over the Mets. The Phillies used Papelbon because the game was tight until the bottom of the eighth, when they scored five runs. Papelbon was already up and warm, so the Phillies used him. He ended up allowing two hits and a walk in his longest outing of the season. Papelbon has made back-to-back-to-back appearances three times since the start of the 2009 season. Two of them came last year.
Papelbon threw 14 pitches last night while recording his third save of the season.