Thoughts, observations, and other minutiae from an 11-6 Opening Day loss to the Nationals:
1) The Phillies are remarkably thin in the bullpen: It's amazing to me that a team with World Series aspirations has Tim Lahey as one of their 11 best pitchers. That's nothing against Lahey. But the guy has never even appeared in a major league game. What would have happened if Tom Gordon HADN'T given up five runs in the ninth? Let's say the fill-in closer gets through the ninth scoreless and the Phillies don't win it in the bottom half of the frame. The only available pitchers are Clay Condrey and Lahey.
Manuel isn't going to throw Gordon out there for a second inning. And Chad Durbin, Ryan Madson and J.C. Romero have already appeared in the game. So it's Condrey or Lahey in the 10th. Yikes.
2) Worst case scenario, this team will be fun to watch: They made an 11-5 blowout entertaining. Chase Utley (home run, single) has his swing back, and the guy is just a treat to watch play baseball. The thing that amazes me most is how fluid a baserunner he is. That probably sounds dumb, but its fun just to watch him run from first to third. Jimmy Rollins picked up right where he left off, hitting his first home run and double of the year. Pat Burrell had a nice day. There's very little to worry about in the top half of the order.
3) Pedro Feliz had a tough day: I counted three situations in which he had an opportunity to help the Phillies in which he fell through. He grounded into a double play that erased Pat Burrell from the base paths (Jayson Werth later doubled), he struck out with men on first and second, and he struck out a couple of batters after Chase Utley cut the Phils' deficit to 6-3 with a solo home run in the sixth. That said, its one game.
4) The Phillies need Lidge back soon. And they need him effective. It was nice seeing the closer in Philly for the Opening Day ceremonies. He's a stand-up guy. Seems to have really fit nicely into this clubhouse, so it was good to see him get out of Clearwater for the first time in a couple of months and enjoy the sold out crowd. That said, the Phillies need him back soon. In a perfect world, in future situations such as yesterday's, Lidge pitches a scoreless ninth and gives the offense a chance to win it in the bottom half of the frame. Gordon then pitches the 10th, and Lahey and Condrey are available if the game goes beyond that.
5) You can call strikeouts overrated all you want, they hurt the Phillies today (they struck out eight times).