Bottom line from the opening stinker, which the Phillies lost 4-1 : I wouldn’t worry about Brett Myers; I’d wait to get worried about the offense’s sluggishness, and I would be a little worried about they lefty factor in the lineup.
First, Charlie Manuel admitted that the pregame pomp may have distracted the team. It was such a novel experience to march onto the field on a red runner, watch your manager raise a World Series flag, run from the dugout to visceral cheers, and then play a ballgame, that the team may have been affected early.
Everything about the pregame scene was an adjustment from the casual, sparsely- populated spring training routine. Instead of chatting with teammates and a few writers at eight in the morning, the players were swarmed by television, print and radio reporters. Jack Taschner, the new guy, watched the scene with wide eyes. “For the first time in my life, I don’t care what my role is!” he told me, speaking rapidly and loudly. In other words, energy of the day was abnormally high.
Taschner and the bullpen did very well, by the way. After Myers settled and pitched scoreless third, fourth and fifth innings (hw only really made three mistakes, all home runs) Taschner, Scott Eyre, Chad Durbin and Brad Lidge combined for three scoreless innings.
Readers of this blog know that Manuel has been cranky about his offense’s lack of spring at-bats, worrying that his hitters wouldn’t be ready for the season. Minor injuries irritated him during camp, and the manager alternately referred to the World Baseball Classic as the “World Baseball Thing” and the “World Baseball League.” He just wasn’t that into it. And sure enough, the bats were sluggish last night. Give it few games before you get nervous, though.
Now, the lefty thing. Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Ibanez batted 3-4-5, and faced lefty closer Mike Gonzalez with a little rally goin' in the ninth. Didn’t work out too well for the Phils, a team with very little righty pop in the lineup and NO righty pop on the bench.
So 162-0 has been spoiled. Jamie Moyer tries on Tuesday to set his team on course for 161-1.
UPDATE, after rubbing the sleep out: no, I wasn't drunk, something seems to have gone strangely with the cut and paste from Word. Paragraphs blending together or something. Can't figure out how to fix...
Okay, think it's fixed.