Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Hits And Hype

Raul Ibanez had a great night at the plate though certainly not in the field. I'm glad for him. When Jayson Werth is ready to resume everyday play, however, I'd sit Ibanez faster than you can say "slow bat/awful glove" and play Ben Francisco in his stead. Yes, Ben didn't exactly have the greatest night either, grounding into two double plays and having an adventure or two in right field (not his natural position), but he got two hits including the game winner and showed he deserves more playing time. If he didn't have a manager who favors veterans to a fault, Ben would probably get that time. We shall see. What we don't need to see is Raul Ibanez pulling up on a ball that was clearly his, hoping and praying Shane Victorino will bail him out.

Meanwhile, on a night when the starting pitching stunk and the relief pitching and defense hardly shone, the Phils' bats came alive. Chase Utley had a fine game at bat and on the base paths. His glove was another story. Ryan Howard hit. Placido Polanco hit. The aforementioned Ibanez had four hits and thus staved off a seat on the bench for a little while longer. Shane Victorino homered. You get the picture: a lot of guys swung the bats well. Best of all, the Phils came back from deficits three different times, something they haven't done in such a long time no one could remember without booting up his computer.

Tonight should offer a fine pitching rematch, Halladay versus Johnson, but the weatherman is probably going to get the decision.

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Rarely if ever does any athlete live up to the hype the way Stephen Strasburg did last night in his major league debut for Washington. I watched the endless replays on ESPN and was truly astonished. Strasburg arrived with a reputation for a Nolan Ryan-like fastball, but it was his curve that bent my mind and the knees of anyone wearing a Pirates' uniform. How's this for a hint at what this kid brings to the game? His change-up was clocked at 91 MPH. Yikes. I also loved his father's comment after the game in which he said [paraphrasing] this was a normal outing for his son. Heaven help teams when the kid ramps it up. Stay healthy, Stephen. We're all looking forward to years of enjoyment watching you pitch, that is against everyone but the Phillies.

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