Friday, September 21, 2007
I can’t believe that I didn’t preview the Nats – Phillies series … Here is a quickie preview of the next three games …
Tonight: Adam Eaton vs. Shawn Hill. This is a major mismatch for the Phillies. Hill is 4-4 with an impressive 3.01 ERA this season. In four career starts against the Phillies Hill is 2-1 with a 3.81 ERA. Adam Eaton, in contrast, has been the Phillies weakest pitcher this season and a major disappointment. He’s 9-9 with a 6.36 ERA thus far this season. In his sole start against the Nationals he was rocked for four runs in six and a third innings.
Saturday: Kyle Kenderick vs. Tim Redding. Like Hill, Redding has generally pitched well for a very bad team. He’s 3-5 with a 3.73 ERA. He won his sole start against the Phillies earlier in the year, going six innings and surrendering just two runs. Kenderick has been a surprise to me. I really didn’t think he was pitching well earlier in the season, but he’s 9-4 with a respectable 4.05 ERA. Kendrick doesn’t strike players out – just 3.5 K/9 – but he’s good about not allowing walks – 2.1 BB/9 – and he seems to give his fielders the best chance to make plays and get outs. His Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) ERA is much higher than his actual ERA – 4.95 – and I wonder if Kendrick is one of those rare pitchers that influences balls put into play or if he’s just plain lucky.
Sunday: Joel Hanrahan is no match for Cole Hamels. He’s 4-3 with a 6.45 ERA and he has a nearly 1:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio (34 strikeouts to 33 walks). Should be an easy win for the Phillies.
Bottom-line, I think the Phillies will win Saturday and Sunday’s games in a walk, but I worry about tonight’s game. If Adam Eaton can pull together and turn in a solid performance, then Friday might just earn the Phillies a sweep.
Winning tonight is important too because Pedro Martinez goes for the Mets tonight in Florida and I think the Mets will probably play with a little fire tonight. The Phillies can’t afford to lose this game and fall behind the Mets. Every game counts.
Before you could say "How about that Ed Wade getting hired?", the Phils were on the ugly end of a 6-2 score. And then it got very quiet. You could feel the postseason chances slipping away, especially when it was reported that the Mets had rallied for 4 runs in the top of the ninth to take a 7-4 lead over Florida. This was it. The ship was slipping under the water. Time to take a long last breath and accept the inevitable.
Then something magical happened. A single. A walk. Then a mammoth homer off the bat of... Jason Werth? (Who IS this guy, anyway??) Instantly, the sinking feeling was gone. Instantly you just KNEW the Phils were indeed Fightin' and would pull this one out. And sure enough, those dueling MVP's, Chase and Jimmy, did what they do so well (aided by a perfect bunt from Shane Victorino), and the Phillies had the lead. Bullpen worries? Bah! Meyers closed it out by freezing the unlucky Nat who was standing at the plate for the game-ending KO.
But the magic wasn't over quite yet. In one of the more exciting and enjoyable instances of scoreboard watching (get used to it) in recent memory, we learned that the motley Mets had coughed up the lead in Florida, and in fact, given the game away in the 10th to suffer another brutal loss.
That sinking feeling was gone. Replaced by another feeling, this one not so familiar. This was a feeling that the Phillies can actually do this. Not only make the playoffs, but (gulp)... win the division! And in the process, eliminate the Mets (the team to beat?) from the postseason altogether!
Ah, that's a good feeling.
regards from Japan