I think it's stating the obvious that we've seen the value of good pitching over the past couple of days. Even though the Phils eventually scored five runs on eight hits last night, you could argue that they were in a position to do so only because Brett Myers limited their deficit through the first six innings. Psychologically, it is a lot easier to score runs trailing 2-1 than it is trailing 5-1, and that was the difference last night.
In fact, it's been the difference the past couple of nights, with Joe Blanton shutting down St. Louis Saturday night followed by Myers' performance (6 IP, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 H, 0 BB) last night.
Over the past eight games, the Phillies have a 3.68 ERA. They've won seven of those games. Over the past six games, they have a 3.23 ERA, and opponents are hitting just .245 against them.
Aside from Cole Hamels' hiccup Friday night, this has probably been the most successful trip through the rotation this season. Of the last six starters, five have allowed three or fewer runs in six or more innings.
But the only way the Phillies will be able to go on a legitimate tear and start putting some serious distance between themselves and the .500 mark will be to continue these performances.
The biggest question, of course, is if Myers' minor league vacation has helped him as much as it appears to have helped him.
In Myers' first three starts since returning from his month-long minor league mental vacation, he is 1-0 with a 2.50 ERA. He has struck out only seven, but walked only six, five of which came in his first outing. In his last two starts, he has allowed eight hits and one walk, and just two earned runs. He has allowed just one home run. Opponents are hitting .177 against him with a .282 on base percentage. Of the 11 hits he has allowed (in 18 innings), only two have gone for extra bases.
This is the first time all season Myers has allowed three or fewer runs in three straight starts. His ERA has dropped a half a run since it ballooned to 5.84 after he allowed five runs in two innings to the Rangers on June 27 in Arlington.
Most importantly, the Phillies have won the last two games he has pitched. To put that in perspective, they were 4-13 in the starts he made before his stint in the minors, and were 1-12 since April 22.
FIRST 17 STARTS: 3-9, 5.84 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 IP, 1.56 WHIP, .284 BAA, .551 SLG, 24 HR
LAST 3 STARTS: 1-0, 2.50 ERA, 3 BB/9 IP, 0.944, WHIP, .177 BAA, .242 SLG, 1 HR
Tom Gordon was back in action yesterday for his first rehab start. It didn't go great. He faced four hitters and allowed a home run. The Phillies technically have 30 days to activate Gordon from the DL now that his rehab clock has started ticking. Gordon has missed nearly a month of action with elbow inflammation and has not pitched since July 6.