The close look at last night's 7-6 win reveals an ensemble cast that shared a starring role.
Marcus Hayes of the Philadelphia Daily News said Chase Utley was the understated key in drawing walks and keeping the lineup moving. Phil Gianficaro, here at the Reading Eagle, praised Ryan Howard, calling his 10th-inning hit the exclamation point on their 7-6 comeback win, following his 2-run shot to get them on the board. I thought Bobby Abreu played a substantial role, with a clutch, 2-run homer in the eighth and 10th-inning walk off Mike Stanton. Until Abreu’s homer, Livan Hernandez stifled the Phillies lineup with his bedazzling low 80s fastball and changeup. No disrespect to the job Howard and Utley did, but Abreu’s blast finally broke Livan’s back.
These were the highlights from a 7-6 dramatic comeback. But the win mostly boiled down to a total team effort late in the game to scratch out the win. Tom Goyne, who writes Phillies baseball at Balls, Sticks and Stuff, posted a graph this morning to illustrate the comeback.
Going inside the numbers, we find several unheralded players doing a lot of things right. Here's some good stuff from the 2006 season that hasn't made headlines:
-- Pat Burrell is the Phillies unsung defender. Of all the regulars besides Mike Lieberthal at catcher, Burrell ranks highest in zone rating (.897). This is pulling from a very small data set, but the naked eye backs it up. Burrell has judged everything correctly, holding more than one batter to a single, including last night when he cut down Brian Schneider’s hit heading toward the corner.
--- David Bell is having another solid campaign with the mit. Considering the number of balls put in play by the starting rotation, it’s tough to argue against his full-time status.
--- Aaron Rowand, as expected, is starting to dig his feet into Philadelphia soil. Loved the helmet slam and profanity after his strikeout. Rowand was the first player to congratulate Howard after his game-winning hit.
--- In bullpen, Tom Gordon is dealing, striking out the side last night. Opponents are batting a mere .167 against him and he has the second-best groundball ratio on the team (1.01). Most impressive: Flash has 10 strikes and no walks.
--- Flash is keeping surprising company in terms of advanced stats. Rheal Cormier isn't far behind. Comier is tied with Gordon in the prevented run category (2), a formula that measures of the number of runs a pitcher saved compared to average. He also leads the team in ratio (0.82).
--- In addition, Ryan Franklin has pitched better from the pen than many people expected. Early signs show a carbon copy of Ugueth Urbina’s contribution in 2005. Franklin leads the team in home runs per game (2.34), but for the most part, is getting the job done the way Urbina mostly did last year.