Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Please Shane, Don't Hurt Em

After yesterday's All-Star round-up, getting to talk about an actual game is a nice change. We had a few pretty darn good games yesterday from teams that might have surprised you. Kansas City pulled out the late victory in Detroit, Arizona managed a rare win with a comeback victory over San Diego, Toronto salvaged 1 out of 4 games in New York with a 1-run win, and the Giants hung on to beat Florida despite a valiant Marlin comeback effort.

One contest in particular stood out, if for no other reason than crooked numbers appeared in the box score in all the wrong places. The Philadelphia Phillies, suddenly winning (4 straight is a nice start) took advantage of Johnny Cueto's stiff back, and rattled off the 3rd biggest win in franchise history, 22-1. The Phils put up 10 runs in the first inning, and chased Cueto after just 2 outs were recorded in a frame that included 3 home runs (2, 2-run shots and a 3-run blast), and the pitcher Cole Hamels doubling in 2 more. In all, the Phillies pounded out 22 runs on 21 hits (10 for extra bases), accepted 7 walks, had one man reach on an error, and Pedro Feliz got plunked.

Bonus credit should be given to the two Phillies pitchers that managed to get through a few innings without giving up a run. So, I present the July 6th Trophy of Aptitude to Carlos Fisher and Josh Roenicke. When the Phillies were busy scoring 10, 1, 1 and 4 runs over the first 4 innings, Fisher and Roenicke got the ball to the back end of the pen and kept the game within the strikable distance of 15 runs (16-1). Then, in a horrible twist of fate, just when it looked like the momentum was turning, Dusty Baker handed the ball not to his closer, but to his backup shortstop.

Paul Janish came on to pitch the 9th, his low 80's 4-seamer ready to fly, and his 45.00 ERA on the cusp of falling precipitously to 22.50. The Phils wouldn't have it. Janish wanted so badly to cut that ERA in half, to make his Major League pitching stats look presentable, but it was not to be. A Jayson Werth grand slam later, Janish had given up 6 runs, the Phillies pushed their lead up to 21, and Janish saw his ERA climb to 49.50. Rough times.

We all knew the Phillies could hit, so there isn't a ton to glean from this game, at least not offensively. Lost in the shuffle is the fine work of Cole Hamels, who, despite getting 30-40 minute breaks between innings, worked 7 strong innings. Hamels is struggling through a very tough, partially injury-plagued season, and getting a 10-run cushion early may have given the ace (and postseason MVP) the confidence he needed to work through some control issues that dated back a few weeks. I'll be very curious to see if Cole builds on this start, or if the monster offensive output of his teammates was a one-time confidence boost, and Hamels will slip back into his funk.

Also worth monitoring, from a betting standpoint, is how the Phillies back up that effort tonight. Rarely do you see a team score 22 runs, then come right back with 9-12 more. The mind is easily the biggest reason behind a huge win or a slump, and my guess is that the Phils collective mindset is that this game is too easy, and they'll probably struggle to score runs, at least early in the game. Tough to say how it will all turn out, but a score close to tied after the first 5 innings is not at all out of the question. Aaron Harang should be able to get a few outs for Cincinnati, and J.A. Happ, a nice surprise for Philadelphia, will keep Cincy to just a few runs. I wouldn't bet the house, but just take note. With the way the Phillies have been playing over the last half week, I'd still think they'll pull this one out in the end.

Tonight, Manny in New York. Yikes.

No comments:

Your Ad Here

The information contained on this page is for entertainment purposes only; any use of this information in violation of any federal, state, or local laws is prohibited. The owner of this website assumes no responsibility for the actions by and makes no representation or endorsement of any of these games and/or activities offered by the advertiser.