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Thursday, October 2, 2008

2 and 0hhhh, Baby!

Going into tonight’s Phillies game the question was which Brett Myers would show up – the guy who came back from the minors a legitimate number two pitcher, or the guy that needed to go to the minors in the first place. Nobody in their right mind thought he’d be a key factor at the plate, helping to drive CC Sabathia to an early shower, and the Phillies to just one win away from the NLCS.

After a cameo by “bad” Brett in the first inning, giving up a run and loading the bases, got a double-play ball back to the mound to end the first. He was never in major trouble again. He also deserved a lot of credit for a 3-up, 3-down inning after the Phils put up a five-run second in which he had the critical at-bat.

In the second inning Myers worked – and I mean worked – a two-out walk. He made Sabathia throw nine pitches, fouling off three pitches with two strikes. Jimmy Rollins followed with a walk, and Shane Victorino knocked a grand slam to make the game 5-1. It was never really in doubt after that.

I don’t think the at-bat by Myers can be stressed enough. Sabathia was coming into his fourth straight game on short rest, and threw over 100 pitches in his last three. He was due to blow up, and Myers pushed him over the edge. Meyers’ following at-bat included 10 pitches before he lined out to center. He even got a hit in his next at-bat to load the bases before Rollins lined out to end the threat. Sabathia was gone in the fourth tonight.

Charlie Manuel made a key change to the lineup that paid off big time. He flipped Victorino and Jason Werth in the batting order, each going 2-for-2 through three, and were responsible for every Phillies’ run. I wasn’t thrilled when he took Myers out, but after Ryan Madsen got into some trouble, J.C. Romero got Prince Fielder out on one pitch. Brad Lidge came in and, for the first time in a while, got a 1-2-3 ninth.

This series would be absolutely over except for one fact – the Phillies have only scored in two innings in two games. Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are also struggling a bit with one hit between them, and Utley’s double last night could have been scored an error. Howard has 4 walks, including 3 tonight, so he may get a pass. More scary is that Mike Cameron misplayed another ball that could have made the Phillies 5-run second a 1-2-3 inning. He did the same thing last night on Utley’s double, which would have been the third out.

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