Chase Utley leads the majors in on-base percentage. Credit: Getty Images
On the five year anniversary of the death of Phillies beloved announcer Harry Kalas, Chase Utley made one of Kalas’ most memerable statements ring true, even eight seasons later.
“Chase Utley, you are the man,” Kalas said during a Phillies win over the Braves back in 2006.
Utley’s eighth inning homer off Mike Dunn was the difference in the Phillies 4-3 win over the Miami Marlins. Utley led the Phillies with his bat and glove to a sweep over Miami.
Utley, who was on base four times Sunday, has the highest on-base percentage in all of baseball (.537).
“He’s a baller,” Tony Gwynn Jr. said. “I watched him from a distance and he was always fun to watch. His legs are underneath him now and he’s driving the ball to all fields.”
The key for Utley is health. Forget about age and ailments. Even though Carlos Beltran was 37 with bad knees in 2013, he was the best hitter in the St. Louis Cardinals lineup that was two games short of winning the World Series.
“I totally believe that if you’re a great player and older, you want that guy on your team,” Gwynn said. “Chase is special ballplayer. If he’s healthy, he’s going to do damage.”
Utley, who is hitting an even .500 says his health is as good as the smoking bat.
“I feel fine,” Utley said. “I’m just trying to find some holes and put the ball in play. It’s about trying to put the ball in play and execute.”
Kyle Kendrick, who pitched six decent innings, was almost executed in the fourth inning. Marlins catcher Jeff Mathis drilled a tracer straight toward Kendrick’s skull. Kendrick just got his glove up in time to protect his face and catch the bullet.
“I didn’t see it (off the bat),” Kendrick said. “I didn’t see it until the end. It was self defense with the glove.”
After making the grab, Kendrick took about a three-minute break before he faced the next hitter. “I just wanted to calm down a bit,” Kendrick said.
The ball was hit so hard that it bruised the palm of Kendrick’s left hand. “I was just lucky that it didn’t hit me in the face,” Kendrick said.
Utley didn’t see the ball off of Mathis’ bat but he’s obviously seeing the ball out of the pitcher’s hands when he’s in the box.
“It’s going well,” Utley said. “But there is still room for improvement.”
It’s hard to improve when you’re tallying hits half the time you’re up but Utley is in one of those zones. Back when Utley was in the latter stages of his 35-game hitting streak, (in August of 2006) he avoided mentioning the streak. Utley spoke about his team, not himself, during that memorable run and not much has changed during Utley’s ten-game hitting streak to open 2014.
“We’re playing well as a team,” Utley said. “It’s all about having trust in the guy hitting behind you.”