Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Lester's More Against Philly Offense

This humble blogger returned to Citizen's Bank Park last night for the first time since it was changed forever by the glorious sight of Snelling's Salts, only to see his team shut out in a 3-0 loss to the Boston Red Sox.

For the first time, and at the prompting of the people with whom I was seeing the game, I sat at Harry the K's Bar and Grill for the first couple of innings. Harry the K himself was not in evidence, as I think he is typically busy during the games. I'd seen this restaurant every time I'd been to the park, but it had never even remotely occurred to me to try to get into. I had vaguely assumed that some sort of special reservations were required, or at least a monumentally long wait. In fact, it was only a twenty minute line, and the entrees were only ten dollars or so (I'd expected it to have prices converted to the ballpark economy and charge around $45).

The view of the field from there is not bad, but from where we ate the outfield, especially right, was obstructed and we had to guess based on crowd reactions what a couple of balls did. It looked to be a good matchup with the Sox's no-hitter luminary Jon Lester facing the Phillies' pitcher of a three-hitter in his last outing, Jamie Moyer. Moyer allowed a walk and a single (which only a very nice play on the part of Jimmy Rollins kept from being a double) in the first and got out of it, but it didn't look as if his control was at his best on this particular start. That was a bad sign since as a pitcher Moyer depends on pinpoint control. The booing for J. D. Drew was even louder and more vehement than it seemed on television; maybe it had a psychological contribution to his 0-4. In the bottom of the first Shane Victorino showed his exceptional speed by achieving the rare feat of bunting a single down the first base line, and reached second on a poorly-handled pitch in what was scored a stolen base, but nothing came of it.

It was in the second that the Red Sox drew first blood, as Moyer's second lead-off walk in a row, to Jason Varitek, was driven in on a Coco Crisp home run. Moyer would get into more trouble in the inning, delivering walks to Julio Lugo and Dustin Pedroia, who stole third and second respectively on at least one very questionable call. It didn't matter in the end, though, as Drew struck out to end the inning. After Carlos Ruiz grounded into a double play to end the second and I had finished my "Schmitter" sandwich (quite tasty) I was glad to escape the missing right field and obstructive head of a fellow diner to take a seat. We had had to buy an extra ticket when another person joined our party and picket up a fourth-level seat from a scalper, but the ticket was never checked when we went to our first-level left-field seats and found an unoccupied chair. The People's Phillies Blog takes no responsibility for what should happen to you if you try this trick yourself.

The third was fairly quiet, with Moyer seeming to settle down and Jon Lester allowing only a Rollins single in what seemed to be shaping up to be a very tough pitching performance. Twin one-two-three innings in the fourth showed Jamie Moyer's remarkable ability to right himself after he starts poorly, and he looked again like the same man who was pitching in Miami last week. As I observed this improvement, however, I also observed Rudy Seanez warming up in the bullpen to my right.

Moyer pitched well in the top of the fifth as well, but in the bottom of the inning Charlie Manuel pinch hit for him with So Taguchi, who hit a hard line drive into a glove. The bullpen did not end up doing badly on the whole, but I do wonder about Manuel's decision to take Moyer out so early, when seemed to have recovered so well. The only further damage Boston was able to inflict came in the next inning. Ryan Madson allowed Coco Crisp a single. He then stole second, clearly stealing off of Madson, as Ruiz's throw was, as usual, excellent. Far from being made extra wary, Madson allowed him to steal third, from where he was driven home by a Julio Lugo double.

The Phillies threatened in the seventh when Jayson Werth and Pedro Feliz both singled, but weak-hitting Carlos Ruiz couldn't continue the two-out rally. It was satisfying to see Jacoby Ellsbury caught trying to steal third after the Sox had swiped so many base in this game. Seanez and Clay Condrey did not allow any runs in their appearances from the bullpen, but neither did the Red Sox's Hideki Okajima or Jonathan Papelbon. It was fine pitching on the part of Boston which did the Phillies in last night, in a game that was essentially a pitchers' duel to which one of the pitchers happened to show up late. It's important for the Phillies to recover from this 3-0 loss and take the series in the next game.

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