The Phils went with pure match-ups last night against tough left-hander Dontrelle Willis, inserting seven right-handed bats and Bobby Abreu into the lineup, but lost to the Marlins 5-2. (AP Photo)
It had to be the strangest lineup card of the season, featuring Jason Michaels leading off, Jimmy Rollins in the slugging five-spot and Tomas Perez getting the start over a semi-healthy Jim Thome.
Odd as it was, it was a logical strategy based on pure numbers. This morning’s box score doesn’t reflect it, but there were several times they had chances to tag Willis for some runs. Both Perez and Placido Polanco went 0-4, but were swinging the bat with confidence and found themselves on wrong end of some bad luck and bad calls.
The game wasn’t free of inexplicable decisions, however. The first of two strange moves came in the top of the seventh inning when Charlie Manuel used Thome to pinch hit for Jon Lieber. It set up a situation, as Comcast’s John Marzano put it in the post game, where Thome "could only fail," lifetime 3-21 with 10 strikeouts against Willis, on top of his already slumping bat. With men on second and third and two outs, Thome struck out looking.
Then in the bottom half, Manuel replaced Lieber with Terry "Man-boobs" Adams, who lasted a third of an inning, surrendering two doubles and a run making it 5-1 Marlins, basically sealing the deal for the Fish, winners of five straight.
With Mike Hampton and John Thompson landing on the Atlanta’s disabled list, Florida is without question the new bully of the NL East. Willis improved to 8-1 with the win, and with the lumber, Miguel Cabrera has been as dangerous as any hitter this month, mashing his ninth homer last night.