Friday, May 16, 2008

Werth the Price of Admission

When Jayson Werth popped out foul in the seventh inning, he received a standing ovation from the Phillies faithful. Phillies fans are notorious for their short-term memories, as Mike Schmidt would surely confirm, but today Werth delivered an unforgettable performance, cranking out three home runs and driving in eight runs, both career-highs, as the Phillies downed the Toronto Blue Jays 10-3.

It started in the second inning, when Werth stepped to the plate with runners on first and second in a scoreless game. That changed in a hurry as Werth launched an opposite field bomb off Toronto starter David Purcey to give the Phils a 3-0 lead. Purcey got the next three batters out, but the nightmare wasn't over for the Blue Jays rookie.

In the third, after a Ryan Howard RBI single, Pat Burrell walked to load the bases. It was deja vu all over again for Purcey as Werth delivered once again, pounding a grand slam over the right field wall. That made it a 8-0 game and, for all practical purposes, secured a Phillies win.

Toronto struck back in the fourth as Alex Rios and Scott Rolen each drove in a run off of Jamie Moyer, but the Blue Jays still trailed 8-2. Oh, and Werth wasn't done yet. In the fifth, he hit a solo shot, his third home run in as many at-bats, that tied a Phillies single-game record for RBIs and earned Werth a well-deserved curtain call.

Each team would tack on another run to make the final score 10-3, but the late runs were inconsequential as Werth effectively beat the Blue Jays by himself. It didn't hurt that Moyer had one of his better outings, allowing three runs in 6 2/3 innings, but today was clearly the Jayson Werth show.

Werth's pop-out in the seventh denied him the chance to tie the major league record for home runs in one game, but he still became the first Phillie to drive in eight runs in a game since Mike Schmidt in 1976. Today's outburst gave Werth nine home runs on the season; not bad for a guy who was in a platoon before Shane Victorino's DL stint. Even disregarding today's game, Werth has had an excellent season, both at the plate and in center field, where he has supplanted Victorino.

While Geoff Jenkins will have to get a few starts here and there, it's going to be awfully hard to remove Werth from the lineup. He's currently sporting a .932 OPS and he is on pace to more than double his career-high in homers (16). To put it in perspective, Werth hit only eight home runs all of last year in 255 at-bats. This year he has nine HRs in 118 at-bats.

It's always hard to take away a player's starting job due to injury (especially when you weren't the one who got injured. Victorino's injury effectively cost Jenkins his job), but Charlie Manuel has clearly made the right decision in sticking with Werth as the primary starter in center field. After today's explosion, there's no questioning Jayson's worth.

1 comment:

GM-Carson said...

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