Maybe it was the back after all.
Well, we wonâ€™t get carried away, but Adam Eatonâ€™s first start since declaring a back injury that had been bugging him since July was certainly good. He went three innings and gave up no runs while striking out two. Yes, he gave up no runs. He did surrender five hits, so we wonâ€™t declare him the fifth starter yet. But he certainly is the first of the batch to pitch well.
The other guys today â€” ugh. JD Durbin gave up five runs in three frames of bad pitching. â€œThe Real Dealâ€ has all but cemented his fate â€” with no more options, Durbin seems destined for waivers at the next round of cuts. I can see the headlines already: â€œDurbin to dumpster.â€
Then there was Fabio Castro, who did his opening day hopes no favors. He gave up two runs in two innings. Once tabbed as the likely left-handed bullpen arm for Opening Day, Castro now faces the strict line: Either pitch great next time out or heâ€™ll find himself repairing his control in AAA Lehigh Valley. The latter seems most likely â€” and the chances of Pat Gillick grabbing a veteran lefty to fill the hole seems even likelier.
Gary Knotts was more like Gary â€œnotâ€ in a bad mop-up job, giving him four runs of his own. Heâ€™s organizational filler anyway â€” see you in Allentown.
And yet again, the offense resembles the bottom of a toilet. Itâ€™s starting to become disheartening that this well-oiled machine isnâ€™t finding its groove. We know these games donâ€™t matter â€” and we have to keep reminding ourselves â€” but if these guys continue to put up one- and two-run games for the next week, Iâ€™ll be worried as hell. Of course, Ryan Howard was good, hitting his fourth homer of the spring.
What we got out of this game:
- Adam Eaton â€” you really, really get under my skin.
- â€œThe Real Dealâ€ is clearly the Fake Deal.
- The Sexy Dictator faces a do-or-die outing next time.
- Charlie Manuel needs to light that bulb he says canâ€™t be lit.
Next, the Phillies have a road tilt in Sarasota against the Reds. Brett Myers is slated to pitch, with Travis Blackley and Clay Condrey following. As pitching narrows down, it looks as if Blackley and Condrey are both competing for the long-man spot (Blackley still an outside shot at fifth starter), while Blackley is in a battle with Shane Youman, Vic Darensbourg and Castro for LOOGY, unless Gillick looks outside. A good performance by both will put them in the lead in their races.