More interestingly, the Phillies pulled off the sweep while Tom Gordon and Brett Myers were on the shelf and the rest of the gang in the most beleaguered bullpen in the National League stepped up.
Like Antonio Alfonseca notching saves in all three victories.
Like Mike Zagurski throwing a scoreless ninth inning of a tied game after Billy Wagner had blown his first save since last year. That’s not counting the playoffs, of course. As we all remember fondly, Billy blew one in the NLCS against the Cardinals, too.
Like Ryan Madson working three hitless innings in the thick of the games on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
Like Geoff Geary pitching himself into and out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh inning of Wednesday night’s victory.
Phew! Who are these guys and what did they do with the Phillies?
Jokes (kind of) aside, the series against the Mets at Shea had a few moments that will certainly find their way onto Video Dan’s end-of-the-year highlight DVD. Chase Utley’s game-winning homer in the 11th to win Tuesday’s game will be there right next to Jimmy Rollins’ three-run blast in the seventh inning of Wednesday night’s game.
But Pat Burrell’s homer to ruin Wagner’s streak of 31 straight saves is the coup de gras. That one was actually kind of fun(ny). For some reason – and I have no idea why – I take a perverse pleasure in watching Billy Wagner blow a save chance. Maybe there’s something deep there, who knows. Certainly I have nothing against him even though he doesn’t like to be asked about his slider.
Perhaps he doesn’t like to be asked about the 3-2 fastball he fed old pal Pat Burrell, either. After the game, Wagner kind of gave Burrell a backhanded little slap regarding the homer that helped the former Phillie closer and so-called “rat” snatch defeat from a gift-wrapped save.
“He has a one-path swing, and I just put it right in its path,” Wagner offered after the game.
If that’s the case (and it very well might be) does that mean Wagner is not a very smart pitcher? Chances are if he decided to bounce a 3-2 slider that Burrell would have flailed away with his customary rear-out swing that we’ve all come to know so well.
Instead, that one path swing pushed the Phillies to within five games of the lead in the NL East. With exactly 102 games to go, I’m going to suggest that the Phillies need to win 62 more to earn a playoff berth. That’s a .608 winning percentage and there are only four teams in the Major Leagues playing better than .608 ball.
Yes, the Phillies are in it, but they still have a lot of work to do. Another sweep on the road in Kansas City would be a good place to start.
Meanwhile, it was interesting that skipper Charlie Manuel acknowledged that the umps got the call on David Wright’s solo shot off Cole Hamels in the sixth correct before arguing it and getting tossed for the fourth time this season. According to witnesses, the umps had to have watched the replay on the big video screen at Shea Stadium after it was replayed over and over again in slow motion.
Speaking of annoying, is there a more annoying player than Wright or Paul Lo Duca? Lo Duca, of course, seems to annoy a lot of people – at least that’s what has been printed in the papers. But I don’t know what it is about Wright… certainly he is a terrific ballplayer and seems to have surpassed Scott Rolen as the marquee third baseman in the game, however, if my son(s) ever have an interest in playing baseball and want to know how the game is properly played, I’ll direct them to watch Rolen.
Wright just seems to have a Danny Ainge quality to him.
Again, maybe that’s just me.
Aside from the shoulder surgery and the fact that he hasn’t been able to focus on being a full-time pitcher, Phillies’ draftee Joe Savery seems like an interesting guy. Based on a conference call with the lefty from Rice University yesterday, the kid sounds confident and expects to be pitching for the Phillies relatively soon.
“I really believe that either by late next year or Opening Day of '09,” he said. “The bottom line is I've never focused on pitching. I relied on athleticism. I'm really excited about the opportunity to focus on pitching and being around professional instruction.”
The Phillies have a track record of not rushing prospects to the big leagues so it will be interesting to see where Savery lands when he signs and how quickly he develops.
Is anyone else excited about Jim Thome’s return to Philadelphia next week?
Don't ask me how because I have no answer, but I dug up this little nugget about Cole Hamels this afternoon... all I can say is bless that kid.