I've come up small in blogging the past couple days, for which I offer my heartfelt apologies.
Let's let bygones be bygones.
1) Great game to watch last night, with enough storylines to produce five different game stories. I ended up focusing on Mr. Happ, though Greg Golson, Rudy Seanez, Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Ruiz and Pat Burrell deserve mention as well.
2) Here's why it pays to be playing a team that is no longer in contention: The Braves started a 25-year-old propect named Clint Sammons behind the plate. Trivia fact about Sammons: he played high school ball with Jeff Francoeur. It was his 13th big league start behind the plate. It showed in the bottom of the eighth inning, when he did a subpar job of blocking the plate, allowing Greg Golson to slide underneath him for the go-ahead run. Contrast that with the job Carlos Ruiz did in the top half of the inning, keeping Kelly Johnson from sliding in safe by blocking the plate with his left leg. The move gave Ruiz enough time to catch a throw from Jimmy Rollins and apply the tag.
3) Pat Burrell's home run was big: manager Charlie Manuel said after the game he wasn't going to use Brad Lidge in any circumstance. Lidge had thrown 54 pitches in back-to-back appearances, meaning the ninth inning was Ryan Madson's and Ryan Madson's alone. The couple of hits - not to mention the near home run - look a lot more grave with a one-run lead rather than a four-run lead.
4) Is it too early to start wondering if we'll get to see another start from J.A. Happ this season? The magic number to clinch the division right now is four. Theoretically, they could accomplish it before the off-day Thursday. They'd have to win these final two games against the Braves and watch the Mets lose their next two against the Cubs. Not out of the realm of possibility from either side. If that happens, Happ would likely pitch the meaningless season finale on Sunday against the Nationals. The Phillies are 4-0 right now when he pitches. It'll be interesting to see whether he secures a spot in the rotation next season. He certainly has the opportunitiy.
5) If you are looking at potential achilles heels for the playoffs, number one on the list has to be the lack of a pure shut-down set-up guy. It is goin to be hard to survive eighth innings like last night's throughout an entire postseason, isn't it?
6) Lastly, I'll leave you all to discuss the following statistic, while keeping in mind that the Phillies currently lead the Mets by 2.5 games:
Mets losses when leading after seven innings: 13
Phillies losses when leading after seven innings: 9
Mets losses when leading after eight innings: 7
Phillies losses when leading after eight innings: 0