Some still miss the thought of J.A. Happ in a Phillies uniform, growing and blossoming as integral part of the rotation. Hell, I’ll admit I enjoyed watching Happ perform soundly as a rookie, and then, moving gracefully between the bullpen and rotation as it became necessary. However, this is why the Phillies nabbed themselves Roy Oswalt. He’s a big game pitcher who has thrived in big situations, and is beginning to do so once again.
As the Braves continue to win as the Phillies do/lose as the Phillies do, it’s important to stay within reach. Today’s 6-0, rain-soaked win over Washington allowed them to do so as Atlanta crushed the Cubs 16-5 to take two-of-three. Oswalt’s seven inning, five-hit performance spoke volumes as to why this might be the best top-of-the-rotation in baseball. The Phillies third ace struck out eight and walked one – he even tossed in a few fist pumps as the 103rd sellout crowd egged him on.
He’s now 9-13 on the season, but moved to 3-1 as a member of the Phils. His ERA in that time has dropped from 3.53 after his first start with the team, to 3.22.
Thankfully, this was not another 1-0 game. As Oswalt shut down the Nationals, the offense gave him room to maneuver. Placido Polanco got the fun started with a sac fly in the first to score Jimmy Rollins, who doubled and then moved to third on a ground out by Raul Ibanez. Polanco struck again in the third inning, bringing home Oswalt, both of whom ended up 2-for-3 on the afternoon.
Wilson Valdez finally came through, after yet another double play today, bringing home two runs on a single in the sixth. After the 1 hour, 44 minute rain delay, Ibanez smashed a home run to right, his 12th of the year. Small ball, long ball – the Phils runs came in different ways. The lineup is showing more and more that it’s not as one-dimensional as in previous seasons.
In the standings, it’s still 2 1/2 games out in the East and the Wild Card lead remains at two for the Phillies over both St. Louis and San Francisco.