2B Chase Utley photo by Icon SMI

The story in July was in every way a roller coaster for the Phillies.  The Phils entered July having already gone through a historically awful offensive slump in May and June, so when Chase Utley was injured on June 29 and it was announced on July 1st  that he would need surgery and would be out a couple months, fans had real reason to panic.

When July began, the Phillies were 41-35 and in third place in the division.  With Utley out of the lineup and after losing a series to the Reds, the Phillies travelled to Pittsburgh to play the hapless Pirates.  However, the Phillies once again couldn’t get their act together and lost three of four to the last place Bucs.  That was not exactly the momentum the Phils needed before a series at home against the Braves.  This was clearly the biggest series of the season at that point, since the Phillies were five games in back of the Braves.  But after winning the first game, the Phillies promptly dropped the next two.  That put them six games back of the Braves and just three games over .500.

The Phillies needed some magic desperately with one series left before the All-Star break, and they got just that in a series against the first place Reds.  Although they did not score many runs, the Phillies pulled off three walk-off wins to sweep the Reds heading into the all-star break.

Could that be the spark they needed to start yet another amazing second-half on their way to the playoffs?

The Chicago Cubs quickly brought the Phillies back to Earth.  They lost three of four games to the Cubs and lost the first three games against the Cardinals to bring them to just two games over .500.  With a 1-6 record on the road trip, the Phils were able to finish the trip on a positive note with a weird game against the Cards.  Cole Hamels and the bullpen combined to throw 11 innings of one-hit ball and Placido Polanco hit the game winning single in the eleventh.

That was the spark the Phillies needed as they returned home to sweep the Colorado Rockies en route to an eight game winning streak.

SP Roy Oswalt photo by Icon SMI

The streak couldn’t have come at a better time, because it put the Phils in position to be a true buyer at the deadline.  Ruben Amaro took advantage and pulled off another pretty decent trade for another ace pitcher, trading JA Happ and a couple picks to Houston for Roy Oswalt along with $11 million dollars.

All said, the Phillies went 15-13 in July.  Those aren’t the kind of numbers we expect from a Charlie Manuel team in July but it isn’t all that bad considering they started 2-5.  After huge up and down stretches, the Phils ironically started and finished 3.5 games back of the Braves.

Biggest streaks:

Winning streak: 8
Losing streak: 4

Here is a quick gauge of where they stood at certain points during the month:

7/1 – 3.5 games back in 3rd place
7/11 – 5.5 games back in 3rd place
7/21 – 4 games back in 3rd place
7/31 – 3.5 games back in 2nd place.

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