After the opening day debacle everyone, yours truly included, had to step back and take a deep breath.
After last night’s tough loss, however, I am not so inclined. As noted here and elsewhere many times before, a good jump out of the gate is critical to any team’s long-term success. Compounding my gloom this morning is the realization that the collective wisdom that worried about the Phillies pitching appears well-founded.
The cold weather notwithstanding, Brett Myers showed us again last night why he is unlikely to become the ace of this or any other staff. For those who would argue how difficult it was to get a good feel for the ball under the circumstances, just take a look at Geoff Geary and Ryan Franklin. Neither of them had a problem. Neither did the Cardinals’ contingent.
Myers allowed ten base-runners in five innings, equally divided between walks and hits. He was consistently high and outside to left-handers when throwing the fastball, which he relied on because the curve wasn’t there either. Worse, he just seems to grab the ball and throw without the slightest indication he has a plan or, on the off chance he begins with one, can make adjustments. Always quick to lose his focus if not composure, color analyst Larry Andersen wondered at one point whether it was time for Mike Lieberthal to go out to the mound and calm Myers down. I can imagine Myers greeting him with “What the &%#!@ do you want?” Rich Dubee drew the short straw and the assignment but it was to little effect. Myers is a thrower not a pitcher.
Lost in the process was the small advantage gained by his mates in the opening frame when J-Roll doubled to lead off the game, extending his hitting streak to 38 straight games, and Aaron Rowand dropped a beautiful sacrifice bunt to move Jimmy to third and Bobby Abreu drove him in with a sacrifice fly. Just like that, one, two, three and the Phils had manufactured a run in a fashion to which they were unaccustomed all last year.
Then Myers went right back out there and gave it back to the Cardinals. The Phils tied the game on David Bell’s two run homer in the late innings, but closer Tom Gordon blew his inaugural appearance as a Phillie and in the bottom of the ninth Mike Lieberthal grounded out with the bases loaded to end the game. I could see it all coming right after Myers gave up the tying run in the top of the second.