The Phillies held a press conference to introduce their star-studded starting pitching staff on the first day of workouts at spring training. The ace-laden staff has appeared on magazine covers and has been featured on every sports cable outlet known to man.
But the Phillies still have an offense with two former National League MVPs and six All-Stars. Through the first five games of the season, the offense has done its part to remind everyone the five-time reigning NL East champs might be able to hit just as well as they can pitch. The Phils posted double-digit runs for the first time Wednesday, outslugging the Mets with 16 hits in a 10-7 victory.
"I think the statement that we made is just us going out and being us," first baseman Ryan Howard said. "I think a lot of people counted us out. We're just going out and playing our game."
Howard, the 2006 NL MVP, has helped lead the offensive charge. He went 4-for-4 with a home run, two doubles and a walk Wednesday against the Mets. Through five games, he's hitting .524.
Even with Chase Utley out indefinitely with a right knee injury, there has been no shortage of supporting hitters behind Howard. New leadoff man Shane Victorino hit a double and a triple Wednesday. Placido Polanco had three hits and three RBI, and new right fielder Ben Francisco launched his second home run in five games.
Francisco, stepping in for departed free agent Jayson Werth, is batting .333, and he may have had two more home runs if two balls weren't knocked down by a fierce wind at the warning track Tuesday night.
"He's been so locked in," Howard said Wednesday. "He's just been having good at-bats. The ball he hit today is a testament to that."
Despite a trio of aces in their rotation heading into last October, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels, the Phillies' season ended before they could reach a third straight World Series because their offense went cold against the Giants in the NL Championship Series. Even with their collection of All-Stars in the lineup, the Phils struggled with injuries and inconsistency in 2010, when they were shut out 11 times.
Through five games in 2011, they've scored 32 runs, an average of more than six per game.
"Right now, our offense looks pretty good," manager Charlie Manuel said.
Coincidentally, the Phillies got off to a similar start in 2010. They scored 43 runs in their first six games. Prior to the seventh game, Jimmy Rollins suffered a right calf strain that plagued him throughout the season.
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