Another game, another home run for Utley

Updated: April 21, 2008

AP Photo/David Kohl

Chase Utley is enjoying a spectacular first month of the season for the Phillies.

ON THE CHASE

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ESPN's research room was abuzz with action after Chase Utley homered again for the Phillies in their win on Monday night. The home run Chase goes through Utley, who leads the majors with nine home runs. In fact, Utley, as one astute colleague pointed out, has outhomered one team -- the Athletics have only seven -- and has as many home runs as the Twins and Royals.

Utley has proved in the early part of his career that he's part of an elite group. He made history in multiple ways on Monday, joining a rare group of second basemen to homer in five straight games over the past 80 years. Joe Morgan never did it, but fellow Hall of Famers Ryne Sandberg and Rogers Hornsby did.

Utley also will have a chance on Tuesday to become the first player in the long (and mostly struggling) history of the Phillies to homer in six straight games. He'll be matched up against Rockies ace Jeff Francis, against whom Utley homered on Sept. 13.

SECOND BASEMEN WHO HAVE HOMERED IN FIVE STRAIGHT GAMES IN THE LAST 80 YEARS
Player Year Team
Chase Utley 2008 Phillies
Jose Castillo 2006 Pirates
Robby Thompson 1993 Giants
Ryne Sandberg 1989 Cubs
Rogers Hornsby 1928 Braves
Source: Elias Sports Bureau.

HOMERED IN FIVE STRAIGHT GAMES IN PHILLIES HISTORY
Player Year Season home runs
Chase Utley 2008 9*
Bobby Abreu 2005 24
Mike Schmidt 1979 45
Dick Allen 1969 32
* Leads the majors in 2008.

Past Baseball Tonight Clubhouses: April 20 | April 17 | April 16 | April 15 | April 14 | April 13

WHY THE METS WON'T COLLAPSE THIS SEASON

I see four reasons why the Mets, unlike last year, won't fade down the stretch this season. (Last year, the Mets went 5-12 in the last two-plus weeks -- including 1-6 against losing teams in the last seven days of the regular season.)

First, Jose Reyes has taken a personal responsibility for the Mets' collapse last year, realizing he still has some maturing to do as far as his approach. There's been a big adjustment in his personality this season, and he's also calmed down with some of his antics in the dugout. And while he was reprimanded in the offseason by management, Carlos Beltran recently told Reyes to be himself because the team rallied around that. I had teammates like Steve Sax and Mickey Hatcher in Los Angeles and Kenny Lofton in Cleveland who kept teams loose. Even Robin Ventura, in his own way, was able to do that when I played with him while I was with the Mets.

How does that relate to why the Mets won't collapse? Well, Reyes is making adjustments on a dime, something that should allow him to stay out of any sort of prolonged slump like he had at the end of 2007 (.187 batting average and no stolen bases in the last 15 games).

One player who didn't collapse late last season was David Wright (.352 batting average, 6 home runs, 20 RBIs in September). Wright -- who didn't start hitting well until May of last year -- is off to a great start and is positioning himself for a huge season and a run at the National League MVP.

The next two reasons have to do with pitching. The first is Johan Santana. He's going to stop losing streaks because he pitches every five days. Not only do the Mets have one of the best starters in baseball (something they didn't have in 2007), but they also have one of the better set-up men in Duaner Sanchez, who's pitching like he did before he got hurt in July 2006. During their collapse last year, the Mets couldn't bridge the gap between their starters and closer Billy Wagner.

A more mature Reyes who understands his job. Wright picking up where he left off in 2007. Add an ace to the pitching staff and a dependable set-up man to the mix, and you can see why the Mets won't collapse this September like they did in 2007.

FORWARD THINKING: TUESDAY

Kyle Lohse • Cardinals at Brewers, 1:05 p.m. ET: Kyle Lohse (2-0, 1.48 ERA) will make his fifth start of the season for the Cardinals. In his first four starts, he has allowed a combined four runs. Manny Parra (1-1, 5.40 ERA) will go for the Brewers. He hasn't pitched more than 5 1/3 innings in any of his first three starts.

Jered Weaver • Angels at Red Sox, 7:05 p.m. ET: Jered Weaver (1-3, 3.60 ERA) will get the start for the Angels; he has allowed exactly one hit per inning this season (25 hits allowed in 25 innings pitched). He'll face Josh Beckett (2-1, 5.12 ERA), who had a 1.39 ERA in two starts against the Angels last season.

Brandon Webb • Giants at Diamondbacks, 9:40 p.m. ET: Barry Zito (0-4, 4.50 ERA) will make the start for the Giants. He has a .315 batting average against in his first four starts. Brandon Webb (4-0, 1.86 ERA) will counter for the D-backs. He's pitched seven or more innings in three of his four starts.

• Complete list of pitching probables for Tuesday's games


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BBTN ON THE AIR: TUESDAY

TIME WHO'S ON?
10 p.m. ET
ESPN
Host: Steve Berthiaume
Analysts: John Kruk, Buck Showalter, Peter Gammons
12 a.m. ET
ESPN
Host: Steve Berthiaume
Analysts: John Kruk, Buck Showalter

BASEBALL TONIGHT MINUTE: JOBA AS A STARTER?

MONDAY'S NOTEWORTHY PERFORMANCES

GOOD
Miguel TejadaMiguel Tejada went 4-for-5, including a two-run home run, and drove in three runs in the Astros' 10-3 rout of the Padres. Tejada is batting .342.
BAD
Matt Belisle• Making his first start after opening the season on the disabled list due to a sore right forearm, Matt Belisle gave up 12 hits, including a leadoff home run to Rafael Furcal in the top of the first inning, and seven runs in four innings in the Reds' 9-3 loss to the Dodgers.
UGLY
Matt MorrisMatt Morris allowed eight runs -- all earned -- on nine hits in four innings in the Pirates' 10-4 loss to the Marlins. Morris is now 0-3 with a 9.15 ERA on the season.

SUNDAY DOUBLE PLAY

Every Sunday on the 12:30 p.m. ET "Baseball Tonight" show, Karl Ravech, John Kruk and Steve Phillips take part in the Sunday Double Play competition. Each of them selects a starting pitcher and a hitter to play for Sunday's games. They compete in three different categories -- wins, hits and home runs -- based on the results of their selections. The results are cumulative for the season.

This past Sunday's pitcher selections and results:

John: Aaron Harang (no decision)
Steve: Andy Pettitte (win)
Karl: Braden Looper (loss)

This past Sunday's hitter selections and results:

John: Travis Hafner (one hit, no home runs)
Steve: Chipper Jones (two hits, no home runs)
Karl: Derrek Lee (two hits, no home runs)

Here are the standings after the first three Sundays:

Wins Hits HRs
John 1 5 0
Steve 1 4 0
Karl 1 3 1

Tune into "Baseball Tonight" on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. ET for the latest Sunday Double Play selections.

FANTASY: PREVIEW OF TUESDAY'S GAMES

Will Harris examines the pitching matchups in store for the 15 games on Tuesday's schedule in the American League and National League.

Will also looks at current injuries and details player reports that could help shape the way you put together your roster for Tuesday's games. Daily Notes

'SPORTS CENTER': MOST MEMORABLE MUSTACHES

NEWS AND NOTES

Placido Polanco• Tigers second baseman Placido Polanco had an MRI on his aching back on Sunday, and it revealed no damage. Polanco has started medication and could be ready to play again on Tuesday after missing four of the past five games.

• Dodgers right-handed pitcher Jason Schmidt, on the disabled list following shoulder surgery last year, threw 50 pitches in the bullpen Monday afternoon.

Ben Sheets• Brewers right-handed pitcher Ben Sheets (right triceps) will miss his scheduled start on Wednesday. Dave Bush will take his place in the rotation.

• Tigers DH Gary Sheffield (sore shoulder) missed his second straight game on Monday and will see a doctor once the team returns to Detroit. Sheffield had surgery to repair a tear in his right shoulder in October.