Today's game was a study in frustration. The Phillies began the season with a game that embodied in microcosm all of the qualities of their worst losses.
Brett Myers was the man everybody was watching, and there were no fireworks. He wasn't lights-out. He didn't completely melt down. He just labored from the start. He didn't manage a quality start. He was just the kind of ineffective pitcher who has been making the Phillies fight uphill battles for years.
The offense made it a game. Utley and Rollins each had a home run on two hits, and Rollins easily assuaged any fears that might have lingered from his unproductive Spring Training. The Phillies played sound National League offensive baseball to perfection. They sacrificed and they ran, and they dramatically scraped together a tie when they needed it.
Today's game, though, was a home-opener emblem for all those games we remember watching and wondering if the Phillies could score enough runs to protect themselves from their own leaky bullpen. Charlie Manuel managed the bullpen in his usual "I have a plan and won't be swayed from it by such trivial distractions as what is actually happening during the game" style, pulling Chad Durbin and J. C. Romero after each had contributed a hitless inning so that he could replace them with Tom Gordon. Suffice it to say that Tom Gordon now has an earned run average of 135.00. No joke. Maybe Brad Lidge will spare us soon from such indignities.
So the Phillies begin the year with an agonizing loss. There are no real conclusions to be drawn on opening day, only observations. After all, last year's home opener was also a loss that Brett Myers started.
Today the defense looked rusty. Rollins and Utley looked good. Starting Feliz paid off. Myers looked subpar. I never want to look at Tom Gordon's face (or the half of it he actually dares to show in public) again. Some of these trends will continue and some won't. Cross your fingers.