Last night's Braves-Phillies contest was an exciting battle that went down to the wire. The Braves had nothing to lose and took advantage of Jamie Moyer's uncharacteristic wildness to take the lead. Maybe Moyer was tired due to his age and the high number of pitches he has thrown over the past three weeks; after all, he is human. But in the end, Philadelphia prevailed 8 to 7. The last 2 runs scored when Ryan Howard hit a dramatic 2-run homer (off a tough left-hander) in the bottom of the eighth. Howard is in a good groove so far this month; the Phils want him to continue like this over the rest of the season and (hopefully) the post-season.
I think the other Ryan - Ryan Madson - was the unsung hero of the game. He looked as sharp as I have ever seen him pitch last night. He pitched the seventh and eighth innings and set six Braves down with ease. He was throwing so well I wanted Charley Manuel to let him go out there for the ninth inning as well. But Charley pulled Madson and brought in Brad Lidge, the workhorse closer. Brad has been great this year but, like Jamie Moyer, Lidge is also human. He gets tired and he has been throwing a lot. It showed last night when he walked the bases loaded before somehow finding his command enough to escape without allowing any scoring by the Braves. Shades of Mitch Williams in 1993!!!
Here's a thought - if a pitcher is really on his game, why not at least allow him to start the ninth inning? If he falters then you can bring in the "closer". But if Madson breezed through three more batters in the ninth, you have given Lidge a break from his heavy workload. As it was, the Phillies used both last night and now have to start rookie J. A. Happ in tonight's game. As a Phils' fan, I hope he pitches a complete game masterpiece but it is more likely that the relief corps will be needed again tonight. Chad Durbin and Scott Eyre were also used last night and J.C. Romero warmed up in the pen. Durbin looks like he has a tired arm - another victim of over-use - and maybe the Phils will have to consider the almost-forgotten Adam Eaton if young Mr. Happ has an early departure. Oh well, let's see what Charley Manuel and Rich Dubee come up with!