Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Youth Over Experience: Part Two

Once again, the pitching matchup featured a "Young"-er pitcher facing a veteran. Last night this worked in favor of the younger pitcher as the Phillies won 7-4. Tonight, it worked in favor of the younger pitcher again as San Diego's Chris Young bested 45-year-old Jamie Moyer and the Phillies lost 4-2.

The game started off with Adrian Gonzalez hitting a two-run shot off Moyer in the top of the first. Matters could have gotten much worse due to errors by Eric Bruntlett and Jayson Werth, but Moyer was able to get Scott Hairston to fly out and Jim Edmonds to ground out. It looked like the Phillies would be in for a long night, until Chase Utley countered with another two-run homer in the bottom of the inning. However, those would be the only two runs the Padres would surrender in the game, and when Kevin Kouzmanoff hit a solo home run in the top of the third, no one in the Phillies offense was able to answer him. The Padres got an insurance run in the sixth when former Phillie Tadahito Iguchi singled in Josh Bard.

Moyer had a perfectly mediocre outing, allowing four runs in 5 1/3 innings. This season, Moyer has never pitched for more than six innings, but he has also never allowed more than four earned runs in an outing. He was followed by Chad Durbin, J.C. Romero, and Rudy Seanez. After Durbin gave up the single to Iguchi, the bullpen was again lights out, and no further damage was done. On the other side, Chris Young went for six innings, striking out six, and their bullpen was also able to prevent any damage, with Trevor Hoffman getting his fifth save of the year.

San Diego has extremely good pitching, and Young is a top-notch pitcher, but once again, it was the lack of offense that hurt Philadelphia. It looked like the Phillies could get to Young when Utley hit his home run, but after that, the team did nothing. Their offense has simply been shoddy lately. Chase Utley continues to produce, and perhaps the return of Victorino will help, but Jayson Werth has cooled off, Pat Burrell hasn't had a multi-hit game in over a week, Ryan Howard continues to do nothing, and none of their free agent acquisitions have been able to contribute. Geoff Jenkins actually had a great night with three hits, but no one behind him made use of them. Aside from Utley and I suppose Burrell, the most productive hitters in the lineup have been Eric Bruntlett and Chris Coste, who is now starting more than he had been. It's nice that Bruntlett figured out how to play everyday, but he's out of the lineup when Jimmy Rollins gets back (oh, what a glorious day that will be), and it's hard to see Coste suddenly becoming an offensive force.

The good news is that the Phillies finished the month of April with a record over .500. A lot of their players struggle in April, so if they can all start picking up the pieces, and improve their play the way they have in past years, this team could be a force to reckon with in the coming months.

Year April Final Record Season Finish
2005 10-14 88-74 Second in NL East (only two games behind Atlanta)
2006 10-14 85-77 Second in NL East (twelve games behind Mets...but still)
2007 11-14 89-73 First in NL East, lost in first round
2008 15-13 ? Who knows...

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