Make no mistake about it. Billy Wagner would absolutely rather be lucky than good. And he was. For the second time in three outings Wagner was far from dominant as he gave up two hits, two long fly ball outs, a wild pitch and one sinking liner that second baseman Chase Utley dived for to record the final out as the Phillies hung on to snap a three-game losing streak by beating Atlanta 2-1.
Wagner is beginning to remind me a little of former Orioles relief pitcher Don “Full Pack” Stanhouse, so named because he allowed too many base runners or ran too many full counts in the opinion of O’s manager Earl Weaver, who allegedly smoked a full pack of cigarettes just during Stanhouse’s appearances.
Either Wagner has lost something on his fastball or batters are starting to catch up with it, but whatever the explanation, he has been hit hard in two of his last three appearances. Fortunately for him and the Phils it was Utley’s turn to start since right-hander John Smoltz was on the mound. Utley made the most of his opportunity going two for three, driving in a run and preserving the win with his glove. He earned the right to start tomorrow night when the Phils face left-hander Mike Hampton on national television in the series finale. And it’s time for Charlie Manuel to throw away the book on platooning and give the kid a chance to play every day.