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“You can’t beat teams that you don’t play, and the Phillies are doing a pretty good job of beating the ones that they do, so do not mistake this for an invalidation of their best-in-the-National-League, 25-14 record. But after a 3-2 loss to the Braves at Turner Field yesterday afternoon, the Phillies are 17-5 against teams that are in last or second-to-last place in their division.
“Has anyone noticed what Ryan Howard has been doing lately? No, not striking out at his typically alarming rate, smart alec. On a Philadelphia Phillies team bemoaning its shortage of offense, Howard led Major League Baseball with 35 runs batted in through Saturday.
“Most of the locker room had cleared out and the team buses were set to leave just a few minutes after Roy Halladay emerged from his usual post-game workout. He’d wrapped up another complete-game effort, largely frustrating the rival Braves in the rubber match of a three-game set.
“The long wait for Chase Utley’s return to the majors is nearing an end, but GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said the injured second baseman still has work to do before he’s ready to make his 2011 debut with the Phillies.
“Once upon a time, Jim Thome was the Phillies starting first baseman. He appeared to be cemented into that spot for the foreseeable future because of his production and the fact that he was a great teammate. Oh, yeah, and because he was guaranteed a lot of money for a lot of years.
“Serendipity can play a bigger role than we’d like to admit. Seemingly minor decisions subtly alter our course, piling up one on top of the other for days and weeks and months and years until it’s hard to figure out whether we got where we are through free will or if it’s all just random chance.
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