One of the reasons I am a bit less optimistic about the Phillies this year? Given his age, Raul Ibanez is way more likely to put up a full season of his second half production from last year than he is to put up even a half season of what he did in April and May last year. Buster Olney talks to scouts who agree:
There is a lot of buzz among scouts about what is perceived to be the
diminished bat speed of Raul Ibanez, the Phillies’ left fielder. “The good thing is that they can
hide him in that lineup,” one scout said. “He’s a smart hitter, so
he’ll guess right enough to do some damage. But he’s vulnerable now to
hard stuff inside — you should pound him with fastballs. I can’t see
them keeping him in the No. 6 spot for the whole year; [Shane] Victorino
is a better hitter.”
Worth mentioning that every scout’s answer for everything is “you should pound him with fastballs in” but I do agree that anyone banking on yet another career year from Ibanez this season is of a particularly optimistic disposition about such things.
The Astros rallied late to keep their winning streak alive, extending it to 11 games with a 7-4 victory over the Royals on Sunday afternoon. The club is now 48-25, leading the Mariners by a full game in the AL West.
The Royals took a 4-2 lead after three innings, but Brian McCann knocked in a run with a single in the top of the fourth to cut the deficit to one run. Carlos Correa hit a game-tying solo home run in the eighth. The Astros kept their foot on the gas, scoring two more runs on RBI singles from Evan Gattis and Marwin Gonzalez in the top of the eighth and another in the top of the ninth on Correa’s sacrifice fly.
Starter Lance McCullers allowed four runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks with nine strikeouts over six innings. Tony Sipp worked a scoreless seventh. Ken Giles did the same in the eighth. Hector Rondon finished off the win in the ninth, working around a one-out walk with a game-ending double play.
After winning all 10 games on their road trip against the Rangers, Athletics, and Royals, the Astros will head home for a nine-game homestand against the Rays, Royals, and Blue Jays. Each club is below .500.