Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Phils Unable to Complete Rally

Shane Victorino hadn't had a hit all night. Down two runs with two outs and two men on, Victorino hit a ball to the warning track, but it was caught by Jeff Franceour to end the game as the Phillies lost to the Atlanta Braves 8-6.

The Atlanta offense got to work immediately against Brett Myers as Yunel Escobar led off the game with a home run. Chipper Jones added another solo shot in the first and Kelly Johnson made it 3-0 in the second with another solo home run. Myers would give up eight runs, six earned, through less than five innings. Ryan Madson, Clay Condrey, and Rudy Seanez prevented the Braves from increasing their lead, but the damage had already been done. Tom Glavine was stellar for the Braves in the first five innings, allowing only one hit and completely shutting down the Phillies offense.

But once the Braves finished their scoring, the Phillies decided it was their turn, as they pounced on Glavine with a four-run sixth inning, which included Chase Utley's MLB-leading fourteenth home run of the year. Ryan Howard put the Phillies within three with a solo shot to left field in the eighth, which seemed like a positive sign for the slumping slugger but the rest of his game was less than impressive, including a bobbled double play ball at first that could have saved Myers some grief early on. In the ninth, Chris Coste, who was 4-4 on the night, got on base with two outs, and pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs followed suit. Jimmy Rollins got a single that scored Coste and moved Dobbs to third. With Victorino up, Rollins stole second base early in the count, putting the tying run into scoring position. However, Victorino continued to struggle as he had all night and the Flyin' Hawaiian flew out to right.

Brett Myers had an extremely bizarre outing in that he either looked horrible on the mound or completely dominating, as he struck out six batters. At first it looked as if Myers had figured out how to deal with the short temper that landed him in the bullpen last year, but as the lead kept increasing, his composure seemed to dwindle. But when Myers was on, he looked fantastic. Unfortunately the Braves hitters kept hitting him. It seemed more like the Braves having a good night offensively than Myers being so horrible on the mound. Either way, Myers, like the rest of the Phillies rotation (sans Hamels) needs to find consistency.

It's hard to judge the offense tonight as they were mostly stymied by Glavine. Chris Coste has a .339 average on the season and always seems to produce when he's in the lineup. Pat Burrell seems to be dropping off in production. His batting average is .298, which is obviously still quite good, but it's the first time he's been under .300 in a while. Hard to know if this is cause for concern, he could certainly be entering a slump. If Burrell does slump and Howard continues at this pace, it might be worth re-examining the idea of switching their spots in the batting order. Rollins has been good upon his return and Utley continues to make an early case for the MVP, though if Chipper Jones can perform this way all season it will be hard to ignore him. The offense did perfectly fine tonight, especially considering most of the key members had off-nights, but the Braves struck early and hard.

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