Finally, the Jon Lieber who is allegedly the Phillies ace has been found and he’s been in hiding out in Cincinnati all season. Not to be shown up by Cole Hamels’ excellent debut last night, Lieber pitched brilliantly and was even perfect through 6 and 2/3 in the second Phillies flirtation with no-hit ball in 2 nights. He surrendered the Reds’ first hit on a single to Adam Dunn in the seventh and their second on a single to Griffey, Jr. which bounced out of David Dellucci’s glove as he was jumping against the left field wall – but that was is. Lieber was removed with 2 outs in the ninth and Tom Gordon came on to record the last out and boost his save total to 12 and that’s exactly what he did. The Phils, winning 2-0 tonight, have now won 12 out of their last 13 games. In those games, thanks to improved pitching and a reduction in errors mentioned earlier in the week, the Phillies have allowed an average of just 3.7 runs while scoring 5.6 themselves. Besides Lieber’s big game, Chris Roberson should be congratulated on his first big league start as well as his first hit. He started tonight in place of Bobby Abreu who was scratched with back spasms.
Not to continually harp on Ryan Howard and his youthful inexperience but he committed a noticeable baserunning gaffe in the top of the ninth. As Chase Utley scored the Phillies second run on a wild pitch, Ryan Howard advanced to second after his fielder’s choice. David Bell subsequently tapped one back to the pitcher and Howard took off to third. He was thus caught in a run down when clearly he should stayed at second until he was sure the ball passed the pitcher. Yes, I realize it’s a split-second reaction, but its a reaction he’s going to have to learn to make correctly. I really don’t mean to overly criticize Howard, especially while the Phillies are hot and everyone knows Howard’s primary strength is at the plate, I simply want Ryan to start learning from his mistakes in his second season. He has the potential to be a great ballplayer, a David Ortiz as some have said, I just don’t want his peripheral aspects to overshadow his offensive dominance.
Finally, it should be noted that Geoff Geary was recalled from Scranton after just two days as Julio Santana was placed back on the 15-day DL with tendinitis in his pitching elbow. Julio’s latest injury only fuels the burning question as to why his signing seemed like such a good idea to Pat Gillick at the time.