How many games does a team have to lose following a very good road trip to the West Coast before that trip is a distant memory?
For the second straight night the Phillies came up short against the Washington Nationals. This game had loss written all over it from the get go when Brett Myers, their best pitcher, struggled early and often; as it was, the Phils nearly pulled it out with a big five-run rally in the seventh inning led by, who else, Chase Utley. But Rheal Cormier allowed Washington to tie the game in bottom of the frame and Clay Condrey took the loss in the twelfth inning.
There are some who will argue the 100 minute rain delay to start the game was the real culprit here, but I am not among them. Staked to a two run lead in the first inning, Myers began the game by setting the Nationals down in order. In the bottom of the second inning, he allowed a bad play behind him, a misjudged line drive that sailed over the head of Bobby Abreu, to once again upset his apple cart and from then on it was downhill. A real ace wouldn’t collapse under those circumstances. Myers did, however, giving up four straight hits and two runs before an error by David Bell allowed a third run to score. The ball Abreu misjudged was ruled a hit, one of those vagaries of official scoring that says if the fielder did not touch the ball it was not an error. Tell that to Myers.
Only yesterday I had written Myers was the most dependable starter, the only dependable starter, on this staff. If he is their ace, however, it is as much by default as by performance. Before commenters jump down my throat and point out this was the first game of the season in which the right hander allowed more than three earned runs (he gave up six of them in three innings of work), let me point out that there is more to being an ace than stats. The Phils needed this win to avoid falling further back of the Mets; they needed this win to maintain some momentum built up in LA and Phoenix; and, they needed this win because that’s what you want from your best starter following a moribund performance in a loss the night before: stop a swing in momentum dead in its tracks before things get out of hand.