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UPDATE -- 11:14 a.m. -- I'm not sure what I was drinking when I banged this blog post out last night. Bastardo is scheduled to pitch again Sunday, not Tuesday, so the Phils wouldn't be able to skip that spot in the rotation this time around.
The look on Charlie Manuel's face said it all. For his entire seven-minute post-game interview session following the Phillies 10-5 win over the Padres Tuesday night, the manager had a goofy grin spread across his face. The source of the grin? Antonio Bastardo. More specifically, Antonio Bastardo's bazooka of an arm, which was on display for six innings against the Padres. First, let's nip the hysteria in the bud: One start does not do anything except earn Bastardo another start. Even that isn't definite. The Phillies have an off day Monday and could theoretically not have to use Bastardo until late next week. But there's a good chance he earned himself another opportunity by holding the Padres to one run on four hits while striking out five and walking one in six innings.
Manuel said he would talk to pitching coach Rich Dubee tomorrow, but he said he is inclined to keep his rotation in its current order. That inclination is a lot easier to follow through on given the results Bastardo experienced. Manuel was blown away by the velocity he displayed on his fastball, which occasionally touched 95 miles an hour. It is easy to see why the Phillies flirted with turning him into a reliever. He looked very much like J.C. Romero out there.
"When I started looking up there and he was pumping 94, 95 and it looked like it was cutting, moving all over the place -- I knew he had a good arm, but I didn't know he had that good of an arm," said Raul Ibanez, who drove in five runs and hit two home runs, including the 200th of his career.
But Bastardo didn't do much other than throw his fastball. He didn't really need to, since the Phillies were up 6-0 before he took the mound for the third inning. Still, it was an impressive one pitch, and Manuel said he thinks Bastardo's adrenaline caused him to grip his off-speed pitches two tight, limiting their effectiveness.
"He did a super job," Manuel said, "but he did it with one pitch."
He was saying that more out of awe than out of qualification.
Has Bastardo earned another start? Barring an unforseen personnel addition, you would think so. It would make sense to run him out there again as soon as possible and see what he can do in his second start. With a 23-year-old pitcher who has made just three starts north of Double-A, the Phillies are essentially playing with house money.
We'll let you know what they decide.