Another strong effort from the starting rotation, this one from Jamie Moyer, reminds us there's much to be hopeful for this season.
Moyer went 6 2-3 innings and allowed two runs, but the night belonged to Pat Burrell, who homered and drove in four runs to cap an 8-2 victory last night in Florida. After the game, Beerleaguer regular, MG ,offered a fine summary in the post-game chat:
1. Glad to see the Phils score 8 runs tonight without much offensive from Utley and Howard. Clear key was that Burrell punished the Marlins twice for walking Howard.
2. One area where this team is clearly improved is having Moyer as the 4th starter compared to Madson. Having a veteran pitcher like this at the back of the rotation who stays healthy and gives you a chance to win almost every time out is vital to making a playoff run.
3. Can't emphasize this enough but the scoreless inning plus from Alfonseca is nearly meaningless. Until Alfonseca pitches well in a series of close games, I still have little to no confidence in him.
4. While the Phils don't have a lot of offense off the bench, I do love the late innings defensive replacement options. The range of the Bourn/Roward/Victorino outfield is particularly impressive. If the Phils can take a lead into the late innings, this defense can go a long way to helping out the spotty relief pitching.
5. The versatility of the bench has provided for some seamless late-inning substitutions and double switches. I’m not sold on their ability to bring someone off the bench to provide that big, late-inning clutch hit, but as MG stated, the defensive substitutions are top-notch and have already paid off in left field and third base.
6. Carlos Ruiz’s CERA must be among the lowest in baseball after catching Cole Hamels Wednesday, the bullpen shutout in the second half of Thursday’s game and Moyer last night. The difference between this season and 2006 is striking. Ruiz actually looks like he belongs in the big leagues. The Phillies may finally have the makings of a worthwhile weapon from the 8-hole, one who hits for some power, average and can run. The only aspect more impressive than his .417 average is the way he’s framing pitches.
7. I started wondering late in spring whether we’d see a Wes Helms/Greg Dobbs hybrid at third and last night did not dissuade the concept. Dobbs, who started in place of Helms for the first time at third, got the Phils on the board with an RBI double. From what I’ve seen, Dobbs looks to be the type who will provide a couple good cuts when you throw him a bone once in a while, but might be worth keeping in the team’s back pocket.
8. Between Dobbs, keeping Michael Bourn and jettisoning Karim Garcia, trusting Ruiz and trying something new with the lineup – for better or worse – I like Manuel’s approach so far despite the 1-3 mark. I'm very curious how he'll respond in the next close game when the bullpen is in play.