Very good pitching from Cory Lidle is just what the Phils needed to snap a five-game skid, beating the Mets 6-3 Wednesday night.
Credit Lidle for snapping the skid
Many people would say Brett Myers has been the most reliable Phils pitcher this season, but when it comes to knowing what you can expect, game in and game out, Cory Lidle is the model of consistency.
The steady Lidle gave the Phils seven strong innings yesterday, allowing just five hits, three earned runs and only one walk. The best inning came in the seventh as the game dragged into the late hours, forcing grounder, grounder, walk, strikeout to hold the Mets in check in his final set.
The bats may be cold, but pitching had been the big culprit during the losing streak, with a team ERA of 7.98 during that stretch entering Wednesday’s game. Ugueth Urbina and Billy Wagner, finally pitching in hold and save situations, both pitched brilliant scoreless sets, including two strikeouts by Urbina.
Ishii finally exposed
As for Mets pitching, the Phils finally exposed Kazuhisa Ishii, whose name in Japanese means "give me a big, fat break."
Like Victor Zambrano the game before, Ishii can be exposed quickly by simply having a patient approach at the plate. That patience paid off big as Jason Michaels lead off the fourth with a walk, followed by free passes to Bobby Abreu and Pat Burrell to load the bases ...
... excuse me for a moment. I’m going to copy and paste this next part from Tom Goodman’s morning article on Swing and a Miss, because if I write it, I might bust my keyboard into a thousand pieces.
Jim Thome’s dismal season can be summed up by a single at-bat in last night’s game against New York. Thome came to the plate in the top of the fourth inning of a scoreless tie with the bases loaded and no one out. The Mets’ Kaz Ishii had walked the first three batters. So Thome, a veteran who should know better, swung at the first pitch and popped it up. Mets third baseman David Wright charged toward the stands but dropped the ball while leaning over the tarp. Wright was charged with a tough error on the play giving Thome new life. Reprieve in hand, Thome proceeded to strike out on three straight pitches.
Luckily, with a capital "L," David Bell nubbed a 0-2 pitch up the middle that scored two runs. It was nearly a double play ball, which would have given Sports Radio plenty to talk about.
Then it was Chase Utley time, and he nailed it off the left-hander for a three-run homer. Utley's continued improvement in this department is the reason why the future isn't pitch black.
Preparedness and patience
I’ve talked about this subject at length lately, calling out Jimmy Rollins’ lack thereof. Jimmy went 0-5 again last night and should be benched next game for Tomas Perez, who hasn’t played much lately. For the series, he’s 0-10 against Zambrano, Ishii and the Mets pen. A manager with stones would say take a seat, Jimmy. It’s never too early to start earning your $40 million.
Then there’s Thome. I'm usually pretty calm watching games, but I nearly lost it watching Thome's AB. Totally unbelievable performance by the so-called veteran leader.
After seeing that, I flipped on ESPN to check on the Braves-Marlins. Every team in baseball should be forced to watch one Braves game a week. The Braves have nine rookies on their team, yet you wouldn’t know it from their collective patience.
Time to bring up Ryan Howard
You know something’s askew when out-of-town papers start wondering why Ryan Howard is stuck in Scranton. But how about the New York Times, having absolutely no business covering this subject at all, making it the centerpiece story this morning in their sports section.
The paper of record published a lengthy piece on Howard, asking the same questions many of us have been asking:
While the Phillies are at Shea Stadium, their most intriguing player waits in a minor league ballpark at the base of Montage Mountain, on the edge of the Poconos, in the ready position.
The Phillies say Howard is a victim of circumstance, stuck behind first baseman Jim Thome and his six-year, $85 million contract, which has three seasons remaining. More specifically, Howard may be a victim of his own talent. While prospects in similar situations make for juicy trade bait this time of year, Howard has become almost too valuable to deal. The Phillies do not necessarily need him, but they are understandably terrified of giving him up ....
... Although Howard believes he was major league ready last September, when he batted .282 in his first callup, the Phillies maintain that he can benefit from another summer with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. They insist he can still improve his defense and enhance his patience at the plate. But one scout who watched Howard last week said that his only real weakness was hitting sharp breaking balls on his hands. Scores of 22-year-olds have been promoted with far greater problems.
Promoting Howard would be quite simple. Do the Phils really need two utility infielders? The answer is no. Has Jim Thome played himself out of the starting lineup? Without a doubt.
Said Goodman this morning in his comments thread, "The thing that bothers me most about trading Howard is that the overwhelming majority of people who follow the Phillies believe it would be a mistake to trade him at this point, but they are powerless to convince management. Wade is desperate, more than ever, and will act accordingly. I am convinced he fully expects to be gone when the fallout of such a poor decision begins."
If that’s the case, it would be the definitive last move in the Ed Wade era. Remember the movie "The Hunt for Red October?" Like Commander Marko Ramius, Commander Wade would essentially scuttle the ship by dealing away the future.
Sean Connery impersonations
Every guy has a Connery impersonation and this line from "Red October" is my favorite. "The officers and I will submerge beneath you, and scuttle the ship."