Busy production day here at work, so let’s get right to the point (er, little stars).
*Another win for the Phils featuring more good stuff from Kenny Lofton and Bobby Abreu. The Rangers wore their standard gray uniforms in honor of the historic occasion while the Phils got all crazy with their flamboyant blue-brimmed hats. Team captains Hank Blalock and Jim Thome exchanged squash-bottom necklaces and turquoise in a ceremony held before the game.
* Entering the season, Jon Lieber had been a very consistent groundball pitcher with good command, and his ability to keep balls in the park was the reason Ed Wade made quick work of bringing him to town. Instead, he’d done the opposite, allowing two homers again last night.
Now 8-4, Lieber isn’t exactly a disappointment, but he’s not instilling much confidence either. When he makes a mistake, it’s always a big mistake. His pitch may have intended to sink or come high inside, but arrives flat, and it seems like opponents can sense when he opens up and know when to turn it loose.
*Charlie Manuel caught flack earlier this year for allowing Lieber to swing away with one out and Mike Lieberthal on first instead of having him bunt. Lieber has been a terrible bunter this season, striking out last night trying to move Lieby along. As long as the plodding Lieberthal is on base ahead of him, I would agree with his Whiteness - the team would be better served if Lieber swung away in those situations.
*Tom Goodman of Swing and a Miss adopted the bad base-running issue weeks ago, and perhaps the worst display came yesterday when Lieberthal forgot the number of outs and got doubled off first. Goodman's conclusion:
"No Phillies team in memory has run the bases so poorly. It cannot be a coincidence that they have new coaches at first and third."
*The Phils have stepped in a fair pile of luck during this stretch, and Placido Polanco got a couple breaks yesterday – a free pass on a pitch that didn’t hit him, and a good bounce on a hot shot to first base.
*Word has apparently spread to the American League about Jim Thome’s struggles as teams continue to test him with high fastballs. He should have struck out twice last night but ...
*C.B. Buckner doesn’t need to be crouching behind the plate to make a bad call. From third, he ruled Thome safe on a 3-2 check swing when he clearly went around.
*Nothing brings out Chris Wheeler’s mysterious giggling like dollar dog night.