The ace pitchers have been struggling as of late. Cole Hamels got the shit kicked out of him by the Mets and Doc was bested by the Cubs and mother nature. Cliff Lee ambled handsomely to the mound in an effort to reverse any bad juju that has gripped the starters who are actually proven major league pitchers. There was some good news concerning the balky back of the shortest ace, Roy Oswalt so maybe the trend of ace pummeling would cease.
The first inning of today’s ballgame did nothing to quell the swelling fears that all the aces have forgotten how to pitch. Cliff Lee allowed a leadoff double to Reed Johnson followed by a two run homer to Starlin Castro. Aramis Ramirez followed with a double and it looked like Cliff was going to have one of those nightmare starts where he can not get anyone out. He shook off the rust and allowed only those two runs through his six innings of work. The beginning may not have been pretty, but Lee turned in a solid outing and made us all feel a little bit better.
Remember when the Phillies hit a bunch of home runs off of Matt Garza in the 2008 world series? That did not happen tonight. Garza no hit the Phillies until Domonic Brown doubled in the top of the fifth. The Cubs starters have held the Phillies offense to two earned runs thus far in this series. Garza was lifted after Jimmy Rollins singled in the top of the eighth inning. As starting pitchers for the Cubs are wont to do, Garza yelled a bunch as he walked off the field. I wonder if Jim Hendry looks for violent headcases to stock his rotation?
The last series against the Cubs, the Phillies knocked around tough left handed specialist Sean Marshall. Marshall has now been installed as the Cubs closer in the aftermath of Carlos Marmol being terrible. The Phillies got to Marshall again as Michael Martinez hit a bloop single and was followed with a crushed opposite field double by Chase Utley plating the first two runs of the game. They scored two more runs in the ninth with a pair of singles from Ben Francisco and Jimmy Rollins with the game winning hit coming on another bloop hit from Michael Martinez. This is the second recent game in which Michael Martinez has been the offensive star. What the hell is going on?
The Phillies entered the bottom of the ninth with a 4-2 lead. Antonio Bastardo entered the game six for six in save opportunities with a 1.02 ERA following the run he gave up earning the save in the series finale against the Mets. Bastardo has been one of the best relievers in baseball. He got his seventh save and struck out the side. Take that Starlin Castro. That’s what you get for homering off of Cliff Lee.
Vance Vance Revolution goes for the series win tomorrow afternoon. It will probably be about 105 degrees so expect Worley to have to change jerseys six or seven times. He will be opposed by the competent Ryan Dempster.