Before I get to the obvious from yesterday’s home opener there were some very good things that I saw and that are worth mentioning. Let’s try to focus on the good after the first game. Jimmy Rollins did have the ice breaking home run of the year (but 3 K’s is not acceptable for a leadoff batter). Rowand and Howard, at least for this day, seem to have gotten over slow springs. Brett Myers looked as good as advertised except for maybe two or three pitches. The Phils will win more games then they lose this year if their starters go 8 and give up only 3 runs.
As much as I liked a lot about opening day though you cant help but feel as if these are the same old Phillies. Obviously Madson giving up the game winning homer after Renteria was trying to give himself up with a bunt is bad…almost as bad as Myers giving up the tying homer to Renteria with an 0-2 count, but there were other ugly parts of the game as well. The Phillies still stranded too many runners in scoring position for a team that has such a “vaunted” offense.
In the bottom of the seventh, after a walk to Myers to lead off the inning and a double by Rollins the Phillies had men on second and third with nobody out and could not score a run or two to ice the game. A man on second and third, nobody out and numbers 2-3-4 in your lineup coming to bat is not acceptable.
Then of course there was the bottom of the ninth with two out Victorino doubled to left (where was that in the seventh inning Shane?) and Howard was intentionally walked. Utley pops out in foul ground to end the inning instead of hitting a walk off single. This goes to show that it does not matter who bats behind Howard teams are still going to walk him in crucial situations and deal with whoever is batting next for the Phils. That is how a feared MVP is treated. Did I like the move of batting Howard 3rd and Utley 4th? Actually I did, but I do believe it is only for the short term.
On the one hand it does allow Utley to utilize his speed more b/c he never wanted to steal with Howard at the plate, but it also takes RBI opportunities away from Ryan b/c Utley gets on base so much. It really is a point that could be argued all season long, but its not worth it b/c I believe that the lineup will return at some point to Utley batting three and Howard batting 4.
In the end there were signs to like and signs that some of our preseason fears are something to really and truly be concerned about, but remember this is a marathon and not a sprint. Even though the Phils are 0-1 and in last place one game out of first, I still believe they have a chance and making the playoffs, what about you?