Thursday, April 17, 2008

Myers Shuts Down Astros

After imitating a moribund offense for the last two games, the Phillies showed their true colors today. The hitting got back on track, belting four home runs in a 10-2 thrashing of the Houston Astros.

The Phillies had only mustered a total of one run in the first eight innings of the last two games, but they started off with a bang today. Ryan Howard, Pat Burrell, and Geoff Jenkins drove in a run apiece, as the Phillies jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Myers did his part, holding the Astros scoreless until the fourth when Miguel Tejada hit a solo home run to right field, making it a 4-1 ball game.

Chase Utley expanded the Phillies lead to five runs in the bottom of the fourth with a two-run shot, which spelled the end for Houston starter Brandon Backe. Backe only lasted three innings and gave up six runs, five of them earned.

The 6-1 score held until the bottom of the sixth, when Howard and Burrell went back-to-back off Oscar Villarreal. Geoff Geary pitched the seventh inning, providing a bit of nostalgia for Phillies fans, as he set down the Phillies in order. Then Jose Valverde, the same Jose Valverde who blew the first game of the series, came in for the eighth. Unfortunately for Astros manager Cecil Cooper, the move didn't pay off. Valverde surrendered a two-run homer to Chris Coste, which left him with a 12.27 ERA plenty of bad memories of his trip to Philadelphia. Coste's blast made it a 10-1 game. Carlos Lee homered in the ninth off Clay Condrey to make it 10-2, but by then the game was already over.

The Phillies finished the series strong and should go into their three-game set against the Mets with a great deal of confidence in their starting pitching. Myers looked like a staff ace today, going seven innings while allowing just one run and striking out eight. As in his last start, he displayed excellent command, issuing only one walk.

While Myers was at his best, the offense was the driving force in today's win. Every starter except Bruntlett and Myers had at least two hits, and the top of the order produced as well as it has all season, despite the makeshift 1-2 of So Taguchi and Greg Dobbs. Coste, in particular, was dominant at the plate, going 4-5 with a double, a home run, and 3 RBIs.

As for Michael Bourn, who carried Houston yesterday, he walked once and stole his ninth base of the season. He has yet to be caught stealing and is on pace to swipe nearly 100 bases.

With the Mets coming to town next, runs will undoubtedly be harder to come by. Tomorrow's match-up should be especially exciting as Cole Hamels takes on Johan Santana. While the Mets rotation is highly-regarded, the way the Phillies have been pitching of late, there's no reason they can't beat the Mets at their own game, should it come to that. Based on today's offensive outburst, the starters may have some help after all.

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