Fans have the luxury of skipping games like last night. The Phillies wish they could do the same.
For the first time since the Boston series, I missed back-to-back games. With Boston, I had an excuse. I was out of town attending a wedding.
This time, it was completely intentional.
Before this series, I gave the Phils no shot at winning, and after two, they’re 0-2, scoring a total of two runs.
So I traded Phillies for chores. I caught up on laundry, cleaned the litter box, started to assemble a NordicTrak, and even had time to watch the Kevin Costner and Joan Allen film “The Upside of Anger.” I recommend it.
From the Comcast highlights, the Phils had some upsides of offense against Roy Oswalt, but squandered a number of run-scoring opportunities with men on base. Jon Lieber was up to task for the second time in a row, matching Oswalt until he was removed for a pinch hitter in the seventh.
One look at the box score this morning told an odd story of late-inning pitching decisions by fill-in manager Gary Varsho. Ugueth Urbina came on in the eighth and shut them down, even though Lieber's pitch could was at 80. But then Varsh called on Ryan Madson to pitch the 1-1 ninth. It wasn’t a save opportunity, but it was certainly a much more difficult than most of those. The result – a walk-off homer on his second pitch.
Good closers can balance themselves on a cliff knowing there’s nothing behind them to break their fall. They grab the ball and shut the door. Madson has never been used as a closer, so why use him in this spot knowing he’s struggled recently? Was Billy Wagner unavailable?
What can we learn? The Phillies are an easy team not to watch away from the Bank.
Trade rumor update: I read somewhere that the Phillies are interested in Tampa Bay closer Danys Baez. If that's the case, it's likely they're positioning themselves to move either Wagner or Urbina.
Conlin reading Beerleaguer? Probably not, but columnist Bill Conlin brought up many of the same points I wrote in my Wagner piece below last evening on Daily News Live. He said if the Red Sox want Wagner, they should be prepared to move third baseman Kevin Youkilis and catcher Kelly Shoppach. He also said Youkilis could help the Phils right now.