Aaron Rowand’s catch could become a defining moment in a season that has taken a drastic turn for the better. (AP Photo)
The Inquirer called it "one of the greatest catches in Phillies history," and from a fan’s perspective, it's a moment we'll talk about for years. I like what one fan said this morning on the Phillies blog Balls Sticks & Stuff:
"If Rowand ever has to buy himself a drink in the Philadelphia area again, I'll be shocked."
As reported this morning, the ironic part is the wall was scheduled for padding directly following this homestand. Rowand told the Phillies it was only a matter of time before he’d run face-first into bare metal. Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened.
The game was called in the fifth, ensuring blood was not spilled in vain. It actually made the catch more important because of the lost innings. One can confidently surmise that if Rowand didn’t haul it in, the Phils would have lost the game. Mother nature must love hard-nosed baseball.
Rowand’s heroics came at a price. He was admitted to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital late last night with a broken nose and will undergo surgery today. A decision was not immediately made whether to put him on the DL, but the Phillies Web site says that decision could come as early as today.
For more on the catch, Tom Goodman revisits Rowand’s feat in detail at Swing and a Miss.
No guts, no glory
When I first started blogging about the Phillies nearly two years ago, I was surprised how many online baseball writers tried to disassociate themselves with words like ‘heart’ and ‘guts.’
Though I believe in the principles associated with sabermetrics, using stats as a guiding influence to make smart baseball choices, I’ve never been 100 percent comfortable abstaining from citing the intangibles.
It was this time last season that Jayson Stark of ESPN.com wrote a piece on how officials from around baseball were baffled why the Phillies, for all their talent, always come up short. Nobody could understand it. The numbers were there, the pieces were there, but they could never get it done. "What is wrong with the Phillies?" the article asked.
Since then, I’ve been waiting for the right time to revisit that piece when the answer came to fruition, The answer came the moment Rowand’s nose turned to mush on the outfield wall.
In my Hardball Times preview before the season, I said the Phillies would make the playoffs in large because they finally have some gamers who would set the kind of clubhouse policy it takes to win, citing Rowand, Chase Utley and Tom Gordon as my examples.
Believe it or not, this was the hardest point for me to write, knowing most of the Hardball Times audience didn't abide by such principles. Two months later, heart represents the difference between this season and last.
---- If there's any indication Rowand's catch lit a fire under his teammates, look no further than Gavin Floyd, who was superb after Rowand's catch. I have not seen Floyd bust left-handers inside the way he did from the second-inning on. Some of those pitches were topping out at 96 mph and had filthy action.
---- The Phillies are 19-15, three-games back of the division-leading Mets. They have won all three series they've played against Atlanta and New York. Considering where they stand today on May 12, would you consider this a good start to the season?
---- Good things seem to happen when Shane Victorino gets into the game. His blazing speed has been a big asset off the bench, getting a double and triple last night with a run scored. With Rowand on the shelf, at least for a little while, Victorino will get a chance to show his true form as the team's 4th outfielder. I like that he brings another switch-hitting speed presence to the lineup, and he covers a lot of ground in the outfield. David Dellucci could also figure to get some work.
---- To make room for Cole Hamels, the Phillies took the safest route by using Geoff Geary's option. Geary had pitched well for the Phillies and hadn't allowed a run in seven-consecutive innings. A report this morning said Geary took the news hard.