Mike Adams underwent three surgeries since he last pitched on three consecutive days. That was August 2012, before surgery to remove a rib that corrected thoracic outlet syndrome, before multiple tears in his right shoulder were repaired, and before surgery for a sports hernia.
That is why Ryne Sandberg made an interesting observation about his 35-year-old righthanded reliever.
"He seems to be more effective when pitching more often," Sandberg said.
So the Phillies manager entrusted Adams with another tight eighth-inning situation in Sunday's 1-0 win. Adams retired Jayson Werth on a weak grounder to first base. The potential tying run moved 90 feet to third base. Antonio Bastardo stranded him there.
Adams, once he departed, was the lone Phillies player watching from the top step. He celebrated by smacking Bastardo's butt.
"Luckily, I kept my pitch count down the past two days," Adams said. "I'm kind of glad it was only one hitter today. I was hanging a little bit, especially after I got done. I could feel it. All the adrenaline left and I could kind of feel my arm hanging a little bit. But it all worked out good."
Adams, who blew a save in Friday's game, threw 27 pitches in the previous two days. He needed four to silence Werth. Adams threw one fastball, at 92 m.p.h., and it was the pitch Werth attacked. Ryan Howard turned it into an easy out.
Adams had not pitched on three straight days since Aug. 26-28, 2012, while with Texas. Sandberg said he was not reluctant to summon his $12 million reliever for another key moment.
"We spent some outings building him up and using him in different roles," Sandberg said.
Closer Jonathan Papelbon extended his scoreless streak to 11 innings with his ninth save. He has not allowed a run since April 2.
"His stuff has gotten better," Sandberg said. "He's got a good fastball right now. That makes everything else better with him. I've seen an improved fastball since opening day."
Shortstop Jimmy Rollins made three sharp plays in the fifth inning but appeared to tweak something. TV cameras showed him talking to head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan. "He felt a little something, but he's fine," Sandberg said. . . . Righthander Ethan Martin (shoulder inflammation) pitched a scoreless inning Sunday for single-A Clearwater to begin an official rehab assignment. . . . A.J. Burnett's seven strikeouts Saturday pushed his career total to 2,215 and past Jim Palmer to 52d all-time. . . . Former Phillies lefthander J.A. Happ will make his first start of 2014 for Toronto on Monday at Citizens Bank Park. Happ, 31, has a 4.77 ERA in 90 games since the Phillies traded him in 2010.