They already loved him around these parts before The Catch, so it’s difficult to imagine how the fans are going to feel about Aaron Rowand now.
He arrived in Philadelphia with a reputation as a guy who would run into walls for his team and that is precisely what he did last night in making one of the most spectacular catches ever seen here or elsewhere.
As soon as Xavier Nady hit the ball Harry Kalas also went into action. “Driven to deep centerfield,” the voice of the Phillies began with characteristic emphasis. The camera picked up Rowand’s back from that point as he raced toward the fence in front of the Phillies bullpen. Glancing once or twice at that fence with utter disdain, Rowand accelerated, always keeping his eye on the ball.
He reached out and grabbed it just over his shoulder and simultaneously crashed into the railing, face first, running so hard there was no time to brace himself. Had the fence not been there his momentum probably would have carried him as far as Packer Avenue.
He immediately crumpled to the ground in obvious pain but had the presence of mind to raise his glove just long and high enough to prove he not only made the catch but held onto it.
No one in the park was happier than Gavin Floyd, who had walked the bases loaded after getting two quick outs in this, the first inning. Rowand had saved the day and, as it turns out, the game, which was called after four and half innings with the Phils holding a slim 2-0 lead. Had Rowand failed to make The Catch, three Mets runs would surely have scored.
Rowand, bloodied but unbowed, was immediately taken to the hospital where a fracture was diagnosed. He will have surgery today and probably go on the DL for a stretch. The bet here is he won’t stay on it a minute longer than mandatory.
Meanwhile, Floyd settled down after that shaky opening frame and pitched better than he has to date. He finally mixed his pitches well and had the curve and change working for him. Other than the three successive walks in the first inning his command was better than it had been in any other start to date.
Larry Andersen opined at the start of the game that no one would benefit more from the arrival of Cole Hamels than Floyd. I had previously written that Hamels’ presence should take some of the pressure off of Floyd who would no longer be the young kid on the block, but Andersen went further and said he thought the decision to keep Floyd on the 25-man roster and in the starting rotation would do wonders for his confidence. That, and the fact that Floyd and Hamels are good friends apparently, having come into and up through the organization more or less together.
And, oh yes, the hero of the game other than Rowand? A guy named Utley, who belted a first inning home run that proved to be the game winner. Where would this team be without Utley? Don’t ask.