Wednesday, August 15, 2007


"They want me to start focusing a little more on staying on top of the ball," Branyan said. "I have a tendency to swing and miss. It's something I've been working on. It was a free-and-easy swing tonight. I was able to pull that ball. . . . You can build off this. It's very exciting, coming in with my first at-bat with the team [to] contribute."

A man after my own heart and now the darling of every Phillies fan, Russell Branyan arrived here with about as much fanfare as a water meter reader. More than a few bloggers and commenters wondered what the Phillies were thinking when they signed the journeyman, but it took GM Pat Gillick to put it into perspective:

"We wanted somebody who could run into a ball and win a game for us," general manager Pat Gillick explained after the game. "Branyan was the guy we got. He's a hit-or-miss. I don't look at his average. We know he's going to strike out, but he's also going to run into some."

And the career pinch-hit numbers weren't a concern?

Gillick shook his head.

Why not?

"Because he was the only guy available," he said.

Nobody's second-guessing Gillick now. Branyan's pinch-hit two-run homer at RFK Stadium of all places propelled the Phillies to a 3-2 victory last night and enabled them to keep pace with the Braves and Mets, both of whom won, and the Padres, who lead the Phils by one game in the Wild Card Chase. It was the kind of win that not only boosts team morale, it will stand out down the road if the Phils finally make it to the Promise Land as a game that was a turning point.

Meanwhile, the guys who manufacture those jerseys you can buy in sporting goods stores and at the stadium are spell-checking
B R A N Y A N right now.

1 comment:

David said...

It's a good sign for a team grinding through the stretch drive when the announcers can justifiably say "it's a different hero every night." That's what it takes. The Nationals may have helped by opening the door with Zimmerman's careless error, but you have to be impressed with the way the Phillies just bolted right through that opening and then slammed the door on Washington in the last two innings.

The Phillies went all season short a bench player, so I'm wondering why it finally dawned on them that carrying eight relievers was wasteful. The previous philosophy was responsible for the team being without its best pinch-hitter in Coste for over half the season, just so some flunky like Rosario or Brian Sanchez could have opportunities to inflate their ERAs during blowouts.