On paper, this didn’t preview as a pitchers duel. Jamie Moyer and Mitch Talbot made it one. Both hurlers had been surprisingly solid through the first two months of the season, but tonight they were outstanding. Moyer outdid the 26-year old Talbot in the Phillies 2-1 win.
Moyer fooled the young, inexperienced Indians lineup with an assault of nothing. Nothing fast, nothing pretty, nothing crazy. Moyer just did what he always does and that’s locate well and turn the jumpy Cleveland bats against themselves. For eight innings and 107 pitches, the Most Interesting Pitcher in the World stifled a lineup filled with no-names (including former Phillies farmhand Jason Donald), allowing just two hits and one run while striking out five. His lone run against came on a second-deck home run by former Phillie (for seven games) Russell Branyan. That mistake would not cost him, unless you look to the record books.
With Branyan’s bomb, Moyer tied Robin Roberts for the all-time major league record with 505 home runs allowed. Don’t look at that record as a negative, but rather as a salute to the longevity of Moyer’s career. It was also his 266th win, which ties him for 35th all-time with Bob Feller and Eppa Rixey. Hall of Fame numbers? You be the judge.
Talbot wasn’t sharp like Moyer, but he got the job done and kept the lowly Indians in it until the last out. Talbot gave up two runs, both coming in the decisive first inning. The first run was brought home on an opposite-field single by Ryan Howard, one of his two singles on the night that found their way around, or through, the shift.
Jayson Werth followed Howard with a blast to center field that was caught just shy of the wall to send home Chase Utley for the winning run. Yes, the winning run coming in the bottom of the first inning. The Phillies could muster just four total hits against a pitcher with a career ERA of 4.94. That again shows the offense is not quite ready to be deemed “back.”
One guy who is back is Jimmy Rollins. He was unproductive at the plate tonight in terms of numbers – J-Roll went 0-4 – however, his presence in the lineup is a win in itself. As far as the leg goes, he’s not quite ready to steal bases, but he did say “I feel like I can score from first with no problem.” The problem there is, who will knock you in, James?
Another issue is the bullpen. J.C. Romero entered to begin the ninth inning, quickly putting two runners aboard. The collective pulse of Citizens Bank Park began to race. Been there, done that. Brad Lidge took over for Romero with one out and first and second base occupied. He was able to use that ripping slider, which he said felt great tonight, to set down Cleveland for the series-opening victory. On a night of milestones, Lidge added one as well: his 200th career save.
No matter the hiccups of the pen, it’s pleasant to see Rollins back in his normal spot at the top of the order. Now it’s up to him and his struggling mates to get them to where they want to be in the standings. “Am I concerned with the standings? No, not at all,” Rollins said, replying to his own question. “Of course, are we where we want to be? No, not at all. So you make it up one game at a time. We’ve done it before…I guess we’ll have to do it again.”