Chase Utley is making an early case for National League MVP:
Utley has homered in five straight games to tie a franchise record. Dick Allen (1969), Mike Schmidt (1979), and Bobby Abreu (2005) also accomplished the feat, but none of them did it twice like Utley, who also homered in five straight games from April 17 to 21.
He is hitting .419 (13 for 31) with seven homers and 20 RBIs in his last eight games.
He leads the majors with 21 homers.
He is second in the National League with 52 RBIs, runs with 48 and slugging percentage at .680.
He is fourth in the league in OPS at 1.083.
He is 11th in the league in hitting at .320 and doubles with 16.
Utley went 3 for 4 with a two-run home run in last night's 5-4 victory over the Reds at Citizens Bank Park. He added two more singles. He bowled over a catcher. He made two diving catches. Otherwise, he had a pretty quiet night. But at the moment you'd have to say it's a three-horse MVP race amongst Utley, Lance Berkman and Chipper Jones. If the Phillies continue to play good baseball and make the playoffs again, that could push Utley over the top against the other two.
Utley has 847,628 votes to lead every National Leaguer in votes for the All-Star Game. Jimmy Rollins remains fifth amongst shortstops (uh, hello?). Ryan Howard is fourth amongst first baseman and Pat Burrell is sixth amongst outfielders.
Brad Lidge picked up his 14th save last night, but I've got a little complaint: his intro music. I like the song, don't misunderstand me. He uses Drowning Pool's "Soldiers," which has a very cool opening with air raid sirens. Except the folks who play his intro music cut most of the sirens out, playing only maybe the last few seconds of them. Bad call. One of the reasons "Hell's Bells" is the best closer's music in baseball is because the folks at San Diego let the song build with the ringing of the bells at the beginning of the song. Fans go nuts by the time the music starts. In Philly, fans typically hear some silly mid-inning music or silence before playing "Soliders" 20 seconds into the song.
In the Phillies Notebook, Kris Benson missed his first start for single-A Clearwater because of soreness in his right biceps.
Ken Griffey Jr. talked about his pursuit for 600.
Hopefully, he plays tonight. I missed Kevin Millwood's no-hitter in 2003, the first game I missed as a beat writer. I missed Jim Thome's 400th home run a few years ago. I wouldn't mind seeing a little history for a change, although I can say I saw the Steve Bartman game in person at Wrigley Field in 2003 and the Red Sox beat the Yankees in Game 7 of the ALCS in 2004. But still ...