Pitching to preserve a four-run lead in the ninth, closer Brett Myers uncorked a wild pitch and clutched his arm between his shoulder and elbow. He will be reexamined today. The Phils edged the Fish 8-7 in extra frames.
The early diagnosis is a strained right shoulder. Afterward, Myers indicated he did not feel a pop or tear and still had strength, but knew making more pitches was ill advised. Today, the million dollar question is whether Myers should have been pitching in the first place.
This isn’t the first time manager Charlie Manuel has used Myers in a four-run, non-save situation, using him with four-run leads both at home and on the road. Now, Manuel will be forced to use pitchers he couldn’t trust with a four-run lead just yesterday.
That being the case, Manuel is in a no-win situation with his understaffed bullpen. His decision to shift Myers to relief kept a sinking bullpen afloat. Unpopular as it was, it worked. Myers gives him the best chance to win every day, and one can understand the temptation to pitch him nightly. However, it's not the right way to manage a 162-game season with playoffs in mind. It burns the best pitcher and keeps other relievers in the dark.
What happened to Myers couldn't have been predicted. It was a night of unpredictable baseball. You'd expect veteran players, like Rod Barajas, to execute fundamental plays. Greg Dobbs’ decision to throw home was a choice you’d expect a little leaguer to get right. It was terrible baseball. Just terrible.
During the post-game interviews, Barajas’ flip response was appalling. Speaking with reporters, the veteran backup was relieved they got the win so everyone could laugh off the poor plays. Well ... nobody’s laughing. They’re shocked by his cowardice actually. The game would have been over if Barajas would have shown some guts. At least Greg Dobbs, who botched an earlier play, felt remorse.
"I should've taken the ball and either tagged Ramirez or gone to the bag, instead of being way too aggressive," Dobbs told MLB.com. "It was just stupid. Afterward, I was so disgusted with myself that I just started walking in circles, thinking 'Did I just do that?'"
Silver lining: Chase Utley had three hits, including a home run and triple. Michael Bourn, making his first career start, went hitless, but drew two walks and had great at bats. He also stole a base. Abraham Nunez and Wes Helms delivered nice hits. Clay Condrey did a good job pitching the extra frame in relief of Myers.
What Beerleaguer would do: The Phillies don't have a back-end reliever to pull from a hat, but they have a hot-handed hurler in left-hander Mike Zagurski. The front office started looking at Zagurski last week as an option for the Phillies' bullpen, but with Myers out for at least a little while, their hand is forced. With nothing better for the late innings, why not try knocking out the left-handers with a pitcher throwing strikes?
In seven innings since his call-up to Reading, the 24-year-old southpaw has allowed only one run on two hits (.083 BAA), striking out eight with two walks. Take a chance. With the bullpen in shambles, there's nothing to lose here.
Update: Brett Myers was re-examined this morning, according to 610-WIP radio, and a shoulder strain is still the diagnosis. He will have an MRI at the Phillies' medical facility in Clearwater today and is listed as day-to-day.