Sunday, April 5, 2009

Opening Night: Phillies vs Braves

And we're back! Well okay, we haven't really gone anywhere, but baseball is back, as the Phillies begin their title defense against the Braves.

8:13: The mercurial Brett Myers gets the first two batters (Kelly Johnson and Yunel Escobar) on a combined four pitches, but then runs into Chipper Jones. Jones hits the 3-2 pitch to left for a single.
8:15: Brian McCann makes him pay for the single, hammering a Myers pitch into the second deck. It wouldn't be Phillies baseball without Myers struggling through the first inning.
8:17: Interesting lineup for the Phillies, with Werth batting second and Ibanez fifth. Now they'll take on Derek Lowe, who gave them trouble in the NLCS as a Dodger.
8:23: Rollins and Werth go down easily, but Utley gives Lowe a scare with a long fly ball to deep right. However, it doesn't have the distance and falls harmlessly into Jeff Francoeur's glove. 1-2-3 inning for Lowe.
8:26: Looks like the bad Brett Myers showed up today. Francoeur homers on the first pitch of the second inning and the Phillies now trail 3-0.
8:30: Well Brett Myers seems to think he's in a home run derby (and if he was he'd be doing great!). Rookie Jordan Schafer homers in his first Major League at-bat. Good for him. Bad for the Phillies.
8:34: Myers finally gets out of the second inning and the Phillies will come to bat hoping to chip into the 4-run deficit. Not an encouraging start to say the least.
8:39: Lowe continues to handle the Phillies, setting them down in order in the bottom of the second. Ibanez had an unremarkable start to his Phillies career, hitting a routine grounder to short.
8:42: Myers narrowly avoids surrendering another home run, as Escobar hits one high off the wall in left center, and with no outs in the second inning, the Phillies already have action in the bullpen. J.A. Happ is warming up...much earlier than Phillies fans had hoped.
8:46: Maybe Happ's bullpen activity got Myers' attention. After the leadoff double, he retires the next three batters and has his first scoreless inning of 2009. Um...better late than never?
8:52: October hero Carlos Ruiz rips a ball just fair down the third base line for the first Phillies hit of the season. A fan gets a piece of it and Ruiz is awarded a double. Myers follows with a grounder to short that fails to advance Ruiz. Now Rollins comes in with a chance to drive in the first Phillies run.
8:54: But he'll blow that chance, hitting a lazy fly-out to left. Inning over, Phils still trail 4-0.
9:03: Myers gets through the top of the 4th unscathed, allowing just a single to Schafer before retiring Lowe to end the inning. He's settling down a bit but with Lowe looking dominant it may be too late.
9:08: Utley hits a grounder to the right side and Kotchman makes a great diving stop, then throws to Lowe from his knees to get the second out of the inning. Howard follows with a grounder into the shift to end the fourth.
9:19: Ibanez Watch: Fifth inning. Ibanez grounds out to short again...That is all.
9:23: Lowe fans Victorino and Feliz to end the inning. The atmosphere in CBP is a little off. It's eerily quiet, as if the fans all want to boo but know they have to wait a while since we're coming off the World Championship. One has to think "a while" might become "a few more innings" if this anemic hitting keeps up.
9:32: With Garrett Anderson on third and two outs, Jordan Schafer (or "Logan" as Jon Miller calls him) is intentionally walked. Lowe battles at the plate, but goes down looking on a 3-2 fastball from Myers.
9:36: Greg Dobbs comes in to pinch hit for Myers, who finishes the night with 4 ER in 6 innings. That won't look terrible on the stat sheet, but it was certainly not the start the Phillies were hoping for from Myers.
9:39: Rollins singles to center for the Phillies second hit of the night. There's still time for the Phillies to rally, but it's starting to run out.
9:42: Werth gets a decent piece of a breaking ball, but it's snared by Lowe to end the threat (if you can call it that).
9:47: Jack Taschner takes the hill for his Phillies debut and gets off to a good start, getting Johnson and Escobar to ground out. But now here comes Chipper.
9:50: Wow. Taschner gets Chipper looking on a 3-2 pitch. Impressive debut. Too bad it's looking like it will be in a losing cause...
9:57: Utley, Howard, and Ibanez go down in order, as Lowe continues to baffle the Phillies. Lowe has a legit chance to throw a complete game, with only 89 pitches through 7 innings.
10:03: Scott Eyre comes in for the top of the 8th and retires the first two batters, striking out McCann and getting Anderson to line out to left. Ibanez makes the catch in left, looking surprisingly competent. Honestly, after all I've heard about his terrible outfield defense, I was expecting him to run toward the ball, then just stare blankly at it until another Phillie picked it up and handed it to him. Good to know he can makes a routine play. With Francouer up, Eyre is pulled in favor of Durbin.
10:07: Durbin enters and gets Francoeur looking, and the Phillies will come up, looking to make a dent in this lead before it's too late.
10:12: Once again, the Phillies can't figure out Lowe. Victorino, Feliz, and Ruiz go down in order.
10:15: It's the season opener and we've already got a confusing Charlie Manuel decision, as Lidge comes to pitch the ninth despite the fact that Durbin only faced one batter and the Phillies trail 4-0. It's not as if this will cost them the game and the Phillies have the day off tomorrow so it's pretty harmless, but still, it is puzzling.
10:18: Lidge retires the side in order, including a Schafer strikeout (the first out of his career), and the Phillies come to bat in the ninth. Can we at least get a run across to make it interesting? The one thing the Phillies have in their favor is that the Braves pinch hit for Lowe, so they'll see a new pitcher.
10:22: And the Phillies have their first extra base hit of the game, as Bruntlett rips a double down the left field line. Looked foul from here but the replay shows it actually hit the line.
10:24: Rollins hits one hard to right, but not hard enough and it's caught by Francoeur, but Bruntlett is able to tag and move to third. Werth steps up and drives in the Phillies' first run of the season, smoking a liner past a diving Chipper Jones. Now the heart of the Phillies order comes up in a 4-1 game. Only problem is, they'll face fellow left-hander Mike Gonzalez.
10:26: Utley walks, putting runners on first and second for Ryan Howard. He'll represent the tying run, but his struggles against left-handed pitching are well-documented.
10:30: Howard goes down looking on a 3-2 fastball right down the middle. Gonzalez seemed to have Howard fooled throughout the at-bat and the only thing that made it competitive seemed to be Gonzalez's wildness. Now Ibanez comes up with the chance to be a hero.
10:32: Ibanez also works a full count, but goes down swinging to end the game.

A frustrating start for the Phillies, who got a poor performance out of Brett Myers and were completely flummoxed at the plate by Derek Lowe. The one positive has to be the bullpen's performance. Taschner, Eyre, Durbin, and Lidge all pitched well and one has to think the bullpen will continue to be a strength. It would've been nice to see a win on opening night, but it's only one game.

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