Thursday, April 05, 2012

And They're Off....Sort Of

The Phils won their season opener today, 1-0, behind Roy Halladay and Jonathan Papelbon in a fashion that will likely be emblematic of the season to come. After a shaky first inning Halladay baffled but did not overpower a mediocre Pittsburgh lineup. Papelbon came in and blew away the side in the ninth (though the call at first base on the final out was questionable). The offense didn't exactly tear the cover off the ball either and wasted all but one of their few scoring opportunities. Good pitching and meager offense. Get used to it. There were a few signs things will be different this year. First and foremost, John Mayberry started in left field. He played a key offensive role in the Phils' lone run, stroking a double to right field that moved Ty Wigginton into scoring position, which he did a batter later on a sacrifice fly by Chooch. But more significantly, Mayberry made two catches in left field, one a beauty, that he and only he of all the outfielders on the team except Shane Victorino could have made, and even Victorino may not have been tall enough for the big catch near the wall. Mayberry had a lousy Spring and wasn't scheduled to start in left today, but Charlie Manuel decided to insert him against lefty Erik Bedard. Look for Mayberry to get plenty of more starts until he plays himself out of the lineup. The other startling development was Jimmy Rollins, the new three-hole hitter, bunting for a single in his first AB. Fans have been asking Rollins, no, make that pleading with Rollins, to do that for eleven years. Halladay more or less picked up this year where he left off last year, that is, having some trouble with the first inning before settling down. But the silent one did just that, holding the Bucs without another hit for seven straight innings. It all went according to script, at least the one the Phils will use per force all season if they expect to compete.