Ladies and gentlemen, the Phillies finally appear to have their No.1 guy.
Brett Myers threw eight strong innings against the Nationals, lowering his ERA to 2.80 in the process. The big right hander limited a good Washington lineup to just three hits and two earned runs and in the process gave most of the bullpen the night off. Tom Gordon, who needed the work, pitched the ninth inning for his fifteenth save.
Everyone associated with the Phillies has always maintained Myers had the stuff of aces but not the temperament. Lately, these same people attribute his success to his ability to control his emotions and put bad calls and fielding lapses behind him. Watching Myers one always has the feeling he never seems quite as dominant as a Pedro or Clemens or Oswalt, but he is clearly meeting or exceeding the quality start criteria. That 2.80 ERA doesn’t lie.
Now, if he could only overcome the one lingering bad habit, giving up home runs to all those Marlon Byrd types, he will have put it all together. For their part, it would be nice if his mates provided him with more support in recognition of his new status.
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Preliminary totals are out for the NL All-Star balloting and Chase Utley currently trails Houston’s Craig Biggio by roughly 17,000 votes. A seven-time All-Star, the 40-year old Biggio is having a fine year for the Astros, but he ain’t Chase Utley. That isn’t parochialism speaking. Utley is the best second baseman in the game today and other than Albert Pujols the first player I’d select to build a team.
Ryan Howard has a much tougher row to hoe to make the squad. Currently in sixth place in the balloting, Howard trails Carlos Delgado, Lance Berkman, Derek Lee and Nomar Garciaparra. Understandably, all of them trail Pujols by a total roughly approximating that of the earth’s entire population and can expect to do so as long as King Albert puts on a uniform. Delgado, currently in a big time slump, still has good offensive numbers for the year and, of course, plays in New York. Berkman is a terrific player. Lee, a great hitter and fielder, is on the Disabled List. It always warms the heart when fans choose guys who not only cannot play but haven’t played for weeks if not months. Wasn’t it Tip O’Neil who said all All-Star balloting was local? Garciaparra is also having a fantastic comeback year in Los Angeles at his new position. First base may be the most loaded position in the league right now. Still, Howard’s numbers put him right up there with all of them except Pujols. Heck, Lou Gehrig wouldn’t beat out Albert.