The doctor remains in thanks in no small measure to his staff who provided sufficient offense and magnificent defense as the Phils evened the series with Atlanta at a game apiece.
Roy Halladay has been everything advertised and then some in pitching a shutout while raising his MLB-best record to 4-0. Shane Victorino made a great catch at the wall to prevent the tying run in the second, Chase Utley dived to start a crucial double play when Atlanta threatened to roar back in the seventh and Ryan Howard made two great plays, the last one diving to his right and flipping the ball to Halladay covering. Afterwards, the normally taciturn Halladay couldn't say enough about the defense behind him.''
Watching Howard continue to mature has been one of the great pleasures of the early season. He is making much more contact, occasionally going the other way, and fielding his position better than ever before. In the past his defense has been shaky as he appeared to lose his concentration but this season he's all business and it shows. One cannot help feeling his signing that huge contract in the off-season helped settle him down, allowing him to feel confident he'd be a Phillie for three more years and this was where he was going to make himself a better, more complete player.
As for Utley, one cannot get enough of him. It is pure pleasure to watch him step out of the box, look around at the defensive alignments and try and hit the ball where they ain't. He's never going to be a Gold Glove infielder but if possible he's even better than that, a player who makes the most of what he has, which is tremendous range, better than average hands and a average arm. He always managed to put himself in position to make all the plays, especially the tough ones. It's impossible to take him for granted because every time he steps into the batter's box or makes a play I remind myself I am watching one of those once-in-a-lifetime players and I don't want to miss a thing!
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During the game I emailed Jason Weitzel and mentioned that as I watched the camera scan the sparse crowd at Turner Field I couldn't help conclude Atlanta is a lousy baseball town. Here we had one of the best teams in baseball in town, starting one of the best pitchers in the game, the home team had won in dramatic fashion the night before, the weather was beautiful and if the crowd was 1/3 the capacity of the stadium I'd be surprised. Just checked the stats: 21,171. Pitiful. Jason agreed and noted Atlanta always seems to get a pass on that front.