Thursday, September 21, 2006

What's In The Forecast?

Several “wrongs” were righted at The Bank last night. Where do you want to begin?

The Phillies' confounding inability to consistently win at home may finally be coming to an end, and not a moment too soon with only four regular-season games remaining there. Of course the following explanation may be stretched a bit thin for some: the weather man made them do it.

Facing the Chicago Cubs in the rubber match of a three-game series, the Phillies simply imagined they were on the road. The weather man cooperated in this chicanery by producing a stiff wind and brisk falling temperatures befitting Wrigley Field. Voila! Pretend you are on Lake Michigan and play on! My companion at the game was Dan Rubin, author of the Inquirer’s blog and a graduate of Northwestern University. Dan arrived at the game wearing a light sweater and can attest to the Chicago-like weather from personal experience.

In the process, the Phils overcame another bugaboo, their struggles closing out a series with a win. Their 6-2 victory following a 4-1 win the night before gave the Phillies the series 2-1 and propelled them into a tie with the Dodgers for the Wild Card lead.

Brett Myers was the biggest hero of the night and not a moment too soon. Previously, Myers hasn’t always stepped up in big games, but on this evening he answered the call and tossed a complete game six-hitter while striking out twelve. Just as critically, he gave the overworked bullpen the night off. With no game scheduled today, the relief corps should be relatively well-rested when the Marlins come to town Friday.

Poor Pat Burrell, subject of an excellent lay analysis yesterday by John Smallwood in the Daily News, walked and scored twice and stroked his 26th home run of the season. The glass half-full crowd hope this latest home run will finally get Burrell untracked; the glass half-empties, whose ranks are much larger, will see it as another late-inning home run when the game was already in hand. Fortunately for Burrell, the 35,000 plus fans at the Bank last night overwhelming gave him the positive reinforcement he desperately needs.

Chase Utley also came through with a big home run just as his average was about to dip below .300 and stay there, at least overnight. The phlogosphere has been abuzz with consternation regarding Utley’s declining fortunes at the plate. Some even suggested he sit a game or parts of one just to collect himself for the final stretch. I can only imagine the cold stare that would have greeted Charlie Manuel if he had approached Utley with that idea!

With the Marlins arriving for a three game series I only have one question: is there a chance a hurricane is in the forecast?


Tom G said...

I've been one of those saying Utley was in a bit of a slump, but there is no way he can sit for even an inning in anything but a complete blowout.

By the way, I found it ironic that you were there last night, one of Brett Myers biggest critics, and he pitched one of his best games ever.

Tom Goodman said...

It certainly is no secret I am not a Brett Myers admirer. Too many bad habits on and off the field. Still, I am willing to give him credit for his performance last night. He did everything one could want and expect of a number one guy. That said, I'd still trade him after the season if the Phils could land a frontline third baseman in the exchange.

egrissom said...

I agree that Myers came up huge for the Phillies last night. Less excited about the rest for the bullpen. There's a whole bunch of guys out there who never pitch and never will when the game is close, how bout one of them with a five-run lead? Certainly winning the game is the critical thing, and Myers did a great job to make it happen last night. But that his eighth outing where he threw 115 pitches or more. Too many. He just turned 26 last month. The Phils are going to need a rested pen down the stretch, but they're also going to needed a rested and healthy arm of Myers. Hopefully even with last night they'll wind up with both.

George S said...

There is in fact a hurricane in the forecast and it's name is Hurricane Dontrelle.

I do not foresee Burrell in a Phillies uniform come next April. He is the classic double whammy: he is not good enough to be in the lineup every day, offensively or defensively (although frankly his season-ending numbers won't look too bad on the surface), and he makes so much money that you have to put him out there anyway, taking away playing time and opportunities for younger or better players. As long as he remains a Phillie, that will be the situation. He is at the point in his career where he will probably not get any better, and those nagging injuries will just happen more often and take longer to heal. So for my money Gillick has to move him for whatever he can get if for no other reason (besides $$) than to open LF up for other candidates. You'll have little chance of landing an everyday LF in free agency as long as Burrell is around and it makes little sense to give up any talent to land a LF in trade if you can't play him everyday.
I can't imagine Burrell playing LF next season at CBP. Angels will take him this winter.

Tom Goodman said...

Will Dontrelle start against the Phils this weekend if he pitched AND hit (two home runs) last night? Boy, it they miss him after missing Oswalt and Petitte in Houston last week they must have an astrologer or tarot reader on the payroll.

ae said...

unless the Marlins switch up their rotation, we have Nolasco, Moehler and Olsen this weekend.

don't get too happy, though - assuming rotations stay as currently established, we will face Dontrelle in Miami in the last game of the season.

Tom Goodman said...

ae: as long as we don't see him as a pinch-hitter I guess we should be grateful.