Wednesday, April 16, 2008

With A Little Bit Of Luck

At least one missing element in the Phillies' 2008 season Version 4.1 has been found and installed: last minute heroics.

The Phils improbable ninth inning comeback against the Astros had a little bit of everything: a pinch-hit home run by recent call-up Chris Snelling; another round-tripper from a rejuvenated Pat Burrell; a strikeout/passed ball that gave second life to Geoff Jenkins; Jenkins running through a stop sign at third base to score the winning run all the way from first base on a double by Pedro Feliz; and last but not least, a call that went the Phillies' way on a play at the plate.

Good teams need luck to go with their pluck and the Phils had a little bit of each last night as they awakened from their eight inning slumber to rally from three runs down, beat the Astros and even their season's record at seven wins and seven losses.

Lost but not forgotten in the win was another solid outing by Adam Eaton, his third straight "quality start" as defined in the new millennium. Eaton got no decision for the third straight time as well, but neither he nor his teammates will be complaining. With Cole Hamels pitching lights out, Brett Myers see-sawing between competent and disappointing, the steady performances of Eaton have been critical. With two weeks left in April there is still plenty of time for the Phils to banish the cruelest month's curse. Now, if only they could stay healthy, their bats would wake up and their gloves would turn from stone to leather, this team might take advantage of the overall mediocrity in their division and start to make a move early rather than late.

Speaking of health, the loss of Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino has taken a serious toll at the top of the order which has been largely unproductive since the two spark plugs went down. Rollins has pinch hit in two straight games but still complains of pain when he moves laterally in the field. When he first injured his ankle the reports suggested it was nothing serious. Five games later he still isn't able to start. On a team whose medical staff has little or no credibility with the sporting public, Rollins' absence only confirms our worst fears, namely, he might be out longer than originally suggested. We have gotten spoiled by Jimmy's own Iron Man history; even one or two absences is hard to accept let alone adjust to. Meanwhile, Victorino was put on the 15-day DL Sunday, raising yet again the question of whether he can ever remain healthy enough to play a full season. Part of his problem is that he plays all out. Like his predecessor in center field, Victorino only knows one speed. Some times, throttling back a little is a better approach, personally and for the team.


Anonymous said...

Gosh, Tom, that almost sounds a tad optimistic! Mind if I join you?

The Phillies have a team ERA in the mid-threes. That, to me, hasn't been getting enough attention.

Amazing win last night, simply stunning. The Phillies are an amazingly hot-and-cold team like that. They can play back on their heels for two hours, and then suddenly drop (as Wheels would say) 'a crooked number' on you so fast the opposition doesn't even know what hit them. Already seen this in several games this season.

I find it curious how quick the Phillies were to stick Victorino on the DL - that is to say, within three innings - while they remain in steadfast denial with Rollins and continue to unwisely play a man short. And if it now turned out they had to disable Jimmy, they couldn't do it retroactively to last week, because he's been making ineffectual pinch-hitting appearances in the interim.


Tom Goodman said...

You caught me, David. I won't let it happen too often. I had turned the game off in the eighth inning, driven into a deep sleep by the Phillies' own brand of sleep-walking. When I awakened, Burrell and Snelling had already delivered and Jenkins was chugging around third. Some timing, eh?

Excellent point about Rollins. It's difficult to say whether he is driving the decision by suggesting he is close to healed or whether the team cannot fathom putting him on the DL. Either way, his situation hasn't been handled well. Manuel's decisions to have him pinch hit have been ridiculous. What happens if he has to run? What happens if he tries to stretch a base hit into a double? Where is the medical staff on that possibility?

Tom G, said...

Just once I would like a Phillie to come back a tad sooner than scheduled from injury.

Part of me wonders, however, if Manuel just wants to make quadruple extra special darn sure that Jimmy is available for the Mets series.

Tom Goodman said...

If Manuel wanted to make sure, he'd stop using Rollins needlessly and let him in fact completely rest and recuperate.