July 3, 2009

Phillies-Braves Series Sweep: Hmm, That Went Well

Atlanta had the Phillies’ number: 8-6-7-5-3-0-9.

Whoops, sorry. That’s Jenny’s number.

The Braves were dialed in on Phillie pitching.

In Thursday’s Philadelphia Inquirer, the banner article on the sports page focused on the hoard of pitching talent residing in the Phillies minor league system. But the article curiously didn’t mention a guy named Rodrigo Lopez, yet he’s the choice to start Friday’s home series with the Mets.

I’m in the dark on this one.

Lopez hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2007 when he underwent Tommy John surgery. Maybe Ruben Amaro Jr. is thinking he has another Jayson Werth-type “diamond in the rough” prospect on his hands. If that’s the case, maybe I should keep a spot open in my “Phillie Playmate of the Week” calendar.

But the article failed to mention why suddenly the Phils are spotlighting their pitching prospects. Either every team in the MLB has decided they’re a post-season contender and aren’t willing to trade real pitchers for prospects (but Ruben doesn’t want to tell us), or the Phils are trying to convince other teams they have the talent to trade.

Can you smell propaganda?

That brings us to the current pitching problems.

On Tuesday, things seemed to be going okay. Joe Blanton gave up some hits but kept them in the ballgame until Ryan Madson took over in the sixth. But he put enough guys on base to tie the game before Chan Ho Park gave up the game winning run in the tenth.

Then Wednesday, Cole Hamels stunk again and the bullpen could do nothing to dispense of the odor. They say that’s because his pitches were up. Funny, in that kind of heat, I thought balls always hung a little low.

High balls are how Phillie pitchers made Atlanta quite comfortable at the plate in game two. Post-game commentator, Ricky Bottalico, said he was disgusted that the pitching staff spoon fed the Braves a level of batting ease that rivaled a comfy round of crumpets and tea.

Well, obviously I’m paraphrasing, but his point was the batters should have been sweating beads because the pitchers should have been shooting at their feet.

Where’s the pitching coach been through all of this?

Instead, Cole Hamels gave up nine hits over 88 pitches and even allowed a single to the pitcher on a sloppy selection of throws, while cursing the umpire again. Tyler Walker gave up two home runs in the fifth to earn his first ERA of the season and help Hamels close out his line with seven earned runs over four innings.

Then Jack Taschner lived up to his nickname “Trash-ner” when he added a few runs to the Braves lead before they shut down the Phillie offense in the ninth for an 11-1 loss.

Then came game three.

What’s happening to Ryan Madson? My husband swears I put a curse on him when he signed my backpack at the Winner’s Circle in Exton, Pennsylvania. But I swear I didn’t touch him. And you have no clue how much restraint that took.

CSN and now MLB.TV sportscaster, Mitch Williams, says Madson lost his confidence in his first blown save in the absence of Brad Lidge. He says Madson isn’t throwing his changeup and the changeup is a confidence pitch.

Well, there you have it—straight from the Wild Thing's mouth. I love Mitch. I have his autograph on my backpack too. He appeared at my Giant grocery store to promote his salsa and I got his signature.

I know what you're thinking—I'm a stalker. Really I'm not, I just play one on TV.

In the end, the Braves handed Philadelphia their first series sweep in Atlanta since 2005 and gave a fourth straight win to their fans in the stands – all ten of them.

It’s been so long since I experienced any euphoria over the Phillie’s performance, it feels like I’m married.

Whoops, that’s right. I am.

Things could be worse. The team could be anticipating the return of their greatest offensive contributor only to get the news that his rehab assignment has been postponed.

Whoops, that’s right. The return of Raul Ibanez has been delayed.

Let’s look on the bright side. Jimmy Rollins broke his 0-27 streak—at least for now. I hope he starts a 27-for-27 streak because the Mets love nothing more than coming to town when Philadelphia is feeling down.

And right now I think they’ve reached pitch black.

See you at the ballpark.

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