Thursday, May 8, 2008

Phils Caught in Arizona's Webb

Today's game was to be a duel of staff aces, as Brett Myers took on the undefeated Brandon Webb. Someone must have forgotten to tell Myers, as he laid an egg and wound up on the wrong end of a 8-3 ballgame.

The start to the game was reminiscent of last night's, as Shane Victorino reached on an infield single, took second on an Eric Bruntlett groundout, took third on a passed ball, and scored on Chase Utley's sacrifice fly. Victorino had burned the Diamondbacks with his speed once again and the Phillies took a 1-0 lead after the top of the first.

But the lead would not last long. In the bottom of the first, Chris Young took Myers deep for his eight home run of the season, bringing in Augie Ojeda as well. Myers got the next to batters out to get out of the inning, but Arizona had a 2-1 lead at the end of the first.

After the first, it began to look like a pitcher's duel, as both teams were held scoreless until the fourth. That was when Myers' control departed (perhaps heading for San Francisco a little early) and the Diamondbacks capitalized. Myers walked Justin Upton and Stephen Drew, then allowed an infield single to Mark Reynolds to load the bases. Chris Snyder then delivered a two-run double and Chris Burke (who, at .149, is one of the few hitters with a lower batting average than Ryan Howard) drove in another run on an infield single. Webb finally recorded the first out of the inning, but, after an Utley error that loaded the bases, Ojeda hit a sacrifice fly to center, scoring another run. Myers finally escaped the inning once Young popped up to Bruntlett, but the damage was done and Arizona led 6-1.

It was only the fourth inning and on most days the Phillies would not be out of it. But with Webb on the mound, this was not 'most days.' Webb shut down the Phillies offense, holding them to one run until the ninth inning. In the ninth, Bruntlett and Howard each had RBI singles, but by then Arizona had put up two more runs of their own and the Phillies lost by a final score of 8-3, with Webb pitching a complete game.

This was not a game the Phillies were expected to win, regardless of Myers' performance, as Webb has yet to lose a game this season. He improved to 8-0 with today's win. The Phillies offense was severely lacking, but that's a common symptom of those caught in Brandon's Webb. It did not help that Pat Burrell was out of the lineup, getting a day off due to a slump, but odds are it would not have mattered today.

Despite today's disheartening loss, splitting a four-game series in Arizona isn't bad at all and things should only get easier in the next few weeks. The Phillies head to San Francisco next for a three-game set, then go home for series against Atlanta and Toronto. More importantly, Jimmy Rollins is expected to return tomorrow, or at least sometime during the Giants series, and the Phillies should have their thunderous lineup intact for the first time since April 8th. The Phillies have fared well without Rollins, as they will remain tied for the NL East lead with a Marlins loss tonight. With the MVP returning, the sky's the limit and the expectations will be raised. However, if anyone can handle the pressure it's Rollins.

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