The Phils escaped Shea Stadium with a badly needed 5-3 win today, thanks mostly to the pitching of Brett Myers and the hitting of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. A few thoughts on the game--the first I've attended in 2006--on the flip.
- Brett Myers continues to mature into a pretty good facsimile of an ace. In the early going, he threw tons of pitches--just under 80 through the first four--and allowed a bunch of baserunners. But he never lost composure, never gave up on any of his weapons--though it seemed like the fastball was more and more in evidence as the afternoon wore on--and ultimately avoided any real mistakes after Jose %^$ Reyes took him out of the yard in the second. When Ruiz picked Cliff Floyd off second base in the 5th, Myers seemed to get a second wind--and he mowed through the last six hitters he faced, throwing only about 20 pitches in the last two innings.
- This is Chase Utley's team. Again, the Phils struggled to hit with men on base all afternoon; in the third inning and again in the 5th, the first two men reached base and the middle of the lineup couldn't drive them in. But when Shane Victorino walked to lead off the seventh--after battling back from 0-2, no less--you knew Utley was going to deliver. His fourth hit of the afternoon was the biggest, a run-scoring triple that changed the energy of the game. Appropriately, he came in on an RBI single from Howard, who also continues to mature as a hitter.
- Abreu had a good game overall, with a homer and two walks, but he looks tentative in the box against lefties and I'm starting to wonder if his speed is going: when he tried to steal a base in the ninth with two out and Howard at the plate, he was easily out.
- Victorino might not be quite the defender Aaron Rowand is, but he's no slouch. He ran a long way to nearly grab Cliff Floyd's leadoff double in the second, and made a brilliant catch to rob Carlos Beltran of extra bases in the fifth. With Beltran on second leading off that inning and Delgado, Wright and Floyd due against Myers, who was still struggling at that point, the whole game looks very different.
- For a veteran of nearly two decades, Tom Gordon seems pretty susceptible to nerves. In the eighth, when he came in with two out and Floyd on first, and again to start the ninth, he threw five straight balls. Kaz Matsui, who has eased back into his role as Shea's favorite scapegoat, bailed him out in the eighth, and Gordon recovered to make some tough pitches to Paul LoDuca and Beltran to end it.
- With some wins, you feel like you've made a statement; others feel like you've gotten away with something. This was the latter; the Mets are just a better team than the Phillies right now, owing mostly to their superior bullpen and their first two starters. But the clubs have split their six head-to-heads, and we're about to start bringing in reinforcements from the DL (Rowand, maybe Lieberthal this weekend). Four games back feels a lot better than six.