"Two in a row at home, two in a row at home!" That’s how Larry Andersen ended last night’s game on the radio after the obligatory Scott Graham "win column" comment. Yes, the Phillies are continuing to pull the pieces together and improve their record – to 8-10 now. A revised lineup featuring Utley in the 2 spot, Howard 5th and Rowand 6th seemed to do the trick as Cory Lidle recorded 10 strikeouts over 6 and 2/3 and Tom Gordon notched his sixth save in as many opportunities. The most significant byproduct of the new batting order had to be the ability to score runs without the long ball. All six Phillies runs came off inside-the-park hits and the team finished the night 5 for 12 with runners in scoring position – though Aaron Rowand did leave 5 men on with his 0-4 performance.
There was plenty to cheer about last night. I personally couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of relief in the top of the seventh when Bobby Abreu jumped up against the chain link fence in rightfield and came down with Miguel Ojeda’s fly ball. I really didn’t want the night to be ruined by maelstrom of boos if he misplayed that ball. Though he may have made the play look more difficult than it actually was, the point is he made the catch and coupled with 3 RBIs, there’s only room for applause
On the other hand, Ryan Howard’s defense was less than stellar. His youth and inexperience seemed to show last night as he committed one error and misplayed another ball. After fielding a bunt in the third inning he tried to throw out the lead runner at second rather than taking the easy out at first. His errant throw allowed all runners to advance safely and gave the Rockies another out which they promptly used to sacrifice the runners to second and third – one later scoring on a wild pitch by Cory Lidle. Then in the eighth, with runners on the corners and one out, he fielded a ground ball just a few feet from first base. Rather than quickly tagging Brad Hawpe who stood frozen just an arms length away, Howard threw down to second in hopes of a 3-4-3 double play. The batter running to first was safe and meanwhile the Rockies scored their fifth run. Howard, should have either tagged the runner if possible, or at least stepped on first for the quick out and either stared the runner at third back to the bag or quickly retired Hawpe in a run down. Luckily, those two runs didn’t cost the Phillies the game, which means Howard doesn’t have to pay tuition for those two lessons.
Tonight the Phils take on another righty in the form of Miguel Asencio who was called up from AAA Colorado Springs last Friday. Although Charlie Manuel insists last night’s lineup isn’t permanent, it would be nice to see it on somewhat of an extended trial run.