Well, that’s one way to start a season.
The Phillies lost a snoozer to the Atlanta Braves, 4-1, in front of 44,500+ at Citizens Bank Park; a rather inauspicious beginning to their title defense.
The Phils mustered only a handful of hits and only one run – off of reliever Mike Gonzalez in the ninth, following eight innings of Derek Lowe brilliance – in yet another home opener loss.
If there are bright spots to consider, they are these:
- Following an awful first two innings, Brett Myers settled down. He finished with six Ks and one BB, but those four runs on three HRs were the difference.
- Chase Utley looked good. At least in the field. He had four putouts, and a couple of balls that made him swivel his hips. He looked fine.
- The bullpen was excellent. Three perfect innings from four relievers. Though the use of four relievers in a losing effort – off day Monday aside – is a bit questionable, they all looked good. It was nice to see Brad Lidge strike out Jordan Schafer, a kid who I can already tell is going to be a thorn in the Phillies’ collective side.
- The defense was solid. Not too much more to say on that, because it’s difficult to catch balls hit to the second deck.
When the Phillies lose, this is typically how it happens. Nearly everything about the game is frustrating and out of the ordinary. Hey, so be it. One down, 161 to go; no need to get worried about this.
If there are gripes, they would be the following:
- Again, using four relievers. Going from Jack Taschner to Scott Eyre without going through a pinch-hitter was puzzling. Equally as puzzling was going from Eyre to Chad Durbin after Eyre got two quick outs. If there’s an overrated aspect of baseball, it’s “matchups” of relievers and batters. Mind you, all of this happened as the Phillies were trailing by four. It wasn’t as if there was a lead to protect.
- Ryan Howard’s strike zone judgment in his ninth inning at-bat was awful. But that’s only one AB.
- The three straight lefty thing Charlie Manuel had in the lineup is an absolutely awful idea, as shown at the end of the ninth inning. Batting Jayson Werth second is also dumb.
- First-pitch swinging. This is a carry-over from last year. When trailing, get on base by any means necessary. If it’s a hit, fine, but a walk works just as well as a single.
- Brett Myers and the first inning. The guy just can’t go without getting ripped in the early stages of a game. Two outs gone and two strikes on Chipper Jones turns into a 2-0 deficit before you can blink.
Jamie Moyer (NR) will face Jair Jurrjens (NR) Tuesday.