Like many an eagerly awaited boxing match, this bout was over quickly. Each team traded punches early but it was the wily veteran club that landed the knockout blow in the second round as the Phillies pounded the upstart Marlins 12-3 to move into first place.
The Fish came out swinging from the opening bell jumping to a three run lead against struggling Brett Myers. In all fairness to Myers, Pat Burrell misjudged a fly ball into two of those runs. Normally, that sort of defensive lapse is sufficient to throw Myers off his game, but after that disastrous opening frame the big righthander surprised everyone, himself included no doubt, reached deep within to reserves few if any thought he had, and pitched marvelously for the next seven innings. Let it be said here, by one of Myers' chief critics, that he stepped up big when his teammates needed him.
Meanwhile, the Phillies offense continued to lay waste to any pitching staff in its way as Chris Coste, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard all homered. Utley is on a pace to hit 52 home runs. While unlikely he will continue that torrid pace as the summer gets hotter and he wears down a little, he is already drawing raves from baseball insiders who admire everything about his game, especially the way he plays it.
The amazing Coste has become Myers' personal catcher. One suspects Myers simply feels more comfort with Coste handling duties behind the plate rather than Carlos Ruiz. Whatever the reason, it cannot be very difficult for manager Charlie Manuel to pencil Coste's name in the lineup given the way he hits. Nor can it be too difficult to rotate the two catchers continually, keeping each fresh for the long grind about to begin.
Game one of this important three-game set is in the win column. A second win tonight or tomorrow, we would be sufficient statement on who intends to be left standing.