Vicente Padilla threw six innings of shutout ball, as the Phils beat the Pirates 5-0. Ryan Madson, Ugueth Urbina and Billy Wagner all chipped in with shutout sets.
Two hours and 34 minutes of Phillies-Pirates magic
Even lunatic hobbyists can only take so much sobering baseball. The Phlogosphere has been quiet lately, reflecting the blah mood of Phillies nation. Even my blog host, Typepad, is crapping out. If you've noticed a few differences in Beerleaguer's design and paragraph spacing, that's why.
Sitting on my sofa tonight, accepting my dose of America’s favorite pastime, I kept thinking of the past 11 seasons. Three years shy of half my lifetime. That’s how long I’ve watched Mike Lieberthal and his little red helmet go from being a pretty good hitter to an insufferable one.
He delivered the first hit of the night, but I'm going to speak my peace anyway. I’ll be glad when the Lieberthal era ends, for the same reason I’m ready to trade in my ’96 Cavalier. I’m not as harsh on the veteran backstop as most fans, just as I’m mostly OK with my emasculating car. The role of catcher in the offense has been overrated since Mike Piazza's breakout season. In the clutch, he’s as fragile as glass, just as my car rattles like hell when it exceeds 80 mph. Lieby is kind of like a Cavalier, but with a $399 monthly payment.
This game was hyped as Vicente Padilla’s must-win … again. His ERA was close to 7.00 entering the game, and his return to the rotation caught me by surprise. Why? Good question. I should come to expect such decisions.
He faced Mark Redman, who in past seasons represented the type of left-hander the Phils struggled against. That hasn’t been the case this season. The Phils are batting .287 against lefties to go with a pretty good .804 OPS. Entering the game, however, the lineup was a lifetime .156 against Redman, and didn’t get a hit until the third inning.
The formerly dominant Vicente Padilla
Padilla will get more credit than he deserves for this win, but he still earns credit for a good performance. He looked solid through the first three, in large because the Pirates were swinging at everything. Aside from a Jack Wilson double, there were no dreaded base runners, and Padilla worked fast and efficiently, zipping fastballs to the plate at 95 mph. For the first time this season, he appeared to have a plan.
Then Tike Redman doubled to lead off the fourth and Jason Bay walked, and one got a sense Padilla was becoming unglued. This is a spot where a good catcher would settle down the pitcher, but Lieberthal stayed behind the plate. A weird little inning saw a run-on-contact out, a past ball charged to Lieberthal, but no damage, and Padilla got out of it.
The fifth inning sums up the Padilla legacy. He gave up a leadoff walk to David Ross, but got Rob Mackowiak to hit into a double play. Two outs. Then he walked the pitcher Redman. Then Matt Lawton doubled down the third base line. Trouble. Tike Redman flies out to end the threat.
Leaving after six innings, Padilla escaped three of them by the skin of his ass. Overall, it was still his best game of the season, but he still hasn’t lasted over six sets.
The Phillies offense
Both teams made it easy on the opposing pitchers, swinging early and often. This was a fast game through six until the Phils busted it open in the seventh.
The four-run inning can be credited to patient at bats by Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. They both drew a couple very good walks against the left-hander Redman.
Walks are not always byproducts. In certain situations, like when a double play is in effect, or when a hitter might be overmatched, or when the pitcher is struggling, players should work the count. Two of those walks turned into runs in the seventh inning when Utley and Howard walked and scored.
That’s about all the game coverage I can stand tonight. The Phils win 5-0. On to random musings.
I’m probably the only fan still OK with the L’il Endy Chavez/ Marlon Byrd trade. The Phils got what they paid for because Byrd stinks, too. Byrd’s average is down around .250, his OPS is something like .607, and he has as many homers as Chavez: none. Between them, they have one stolen base. It’s worse for Byrd because he plays over twice as much.
Problem for problem. At least the Phils got speed and versatile defense off the bench. Then again, it’s hard to say.
Based on how he’s used lately, Ryan Madson must feel lost. He pitched again tonight after a rough appearance Tuesday.
Here’s a recap of his season. He started as long relief, replaced Tim Worrell as the setup man, then moved back a spot to make room for Ugueth Urbina, and lately he’s been hearing rumors he’d replace Padilla in the rotation.
This has to be a frustrating time for Mad Dog, who’s basically floating around the pen willy-nilly under the guise of a 7th-inning man.