I no longer know if that was the “real” Brett Myers who showed up last night or a pretender, but whoever that was, he pitched “real good” as his manager might say.
Lots of walks – too many – but lots of strikeouts, especially when he needed them. And some wonderful fielding behind him, especially by Abraham Nunez, who proved he should be given more playing time. I can’t resist pointing out that without Nunez’ great stop of a hard hit ball by Randy Johnson, the Phils might have suffered yet another ignominious defeat courtesy of an opposing pitcher with a bat in his hands.
Shane Victorino also served notice yet again why he deserves to be playing regularly. Only yesterday I said he should be in the lineup every day, spelling one of the three regular outfielders. He hits. He runs. He catches the ball. He ignites this team in a way no other player does including Jimmy. Watch. They’ll trade him.
Chase Utley played first base last night. Nunez was at second. When Tom Goyne of Balls, Sticks & Stuff emailed me and some other bloggers prior to the start of the game and told us the lineup had Utley at first and Bobby Abreu and Ryan Howard on the bench, I didn’t believe it. (Say, Tom, where do they post those pre-game lineups anyway?) I believed Tom, mind you, just not Charlie. Hey, it worked, so I am not complaining…for now.
Nothing surprises me anymore. Prior to this season I have never seen so many shifts put on for so many batters. We are not talking about a shift only for Barry Bonds. Just about every team with a pull hitter is seeing a shift at one point during a game, and even some guys who have a strong tendency to go the other way are being defended in the extreme. You can be sure I’ve never seen a shift like the one Tampa Bay put on for Ryan Howard Friday night when I was at the game. After the pitcher had Howard 0-1, Devil Rays third baseman Tomas “Pie Man” Perez shifted to left field, giving Tampa Bay four outfielders. The shortstop was behind second base leaving the entire left side of the infield and most of left field (except the deepest part) completely uncovered. I stared in total disbelief. For their part, the Devil Rays figured he wouldn’t attempt to lay down a bunt with one strike on him. Heck, they probably figured he wouldn’t lay down a bunt no matter what the count but even they wouldn’t chance their version of the shift when Howard had a strike to give. Not only shifts, but situational ones!