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Pinch Me!

Understandably lost in the focus on Jamie Moyer's near-no hitter yesterday was an event of almost equal rarity: big contributions from the Phillies' bench players. Jayson Werth, freed from riding the pine for one afternoon at least, made a great catch to save the no-no and preserve a then-tenuous 1-0 lead in the 4th inning, then delivered a two-run, two-out hit in the 6th. And after Moyer lost his no-hit bid and had left the game, Greg Dobbs came off the bench to deliver a three-run double that boosted the Phils' lead to 6-0 and obviated the prospect of Tom Gordon blowing another save opportunity.

Dobbs now has both doubles and six of the team's eight RBI off the  bench. As pinch-hitters, he and Werth are a combined 7 for 24 with two walks; the team as a whole is 8 for 35 (.229) with a .611 OPS, a figure that ranks 7th among the 16 NL teams.

That's far from spectacular, but it's also considerably better than what Charlie Manuel got out of his subs last season. In 2006, Phillies reserves offered minimal production in maximum exposure, posting a collective .563 OPS, 15th in the league, in 272 at-bats, the second-most in the NL.

One criticism of the Phils' current group of decision-makers is that they retain an "American League mindset," understandable given Pat Gillick's decades of work putting together AL clubs and Charlie Manuel's long tenure with the Indians before joining the Phillies organization. But Gillick is now in his second year as the Phils' GM, Manuel his third in the dugout. It's obviously too soon to know with any real confidence, but it would be nice to think that they've tumbled to the greater importance of a usable bench in the NL, and that guys like Dobbs and Werth reflect that new understanding. At least for one day, those guys made their bosses look pretty smart.