For all the notoriety that the Phillies’ offense garners year in and year out, this week belonged to the pitchers. Let’s hear it for them.
Let’s hear it for Joe Blanton. Big Joe returned from the DL to make his first start of the season against the NL’s best team in the St. Louis Cardinals. The beleaguered rotation needed Blanton to return, and while he got the “L”, he pitched six very strong innings and gave hope to this staff.
Let’s hear it for Cole Hamels. His outing Tuesday night was easily his best of the young season:
8 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K
And if it wasn’t for the 34-year old yahoo who ran on to the field at the top of the ninth, Hamels may have had himself a shutout. With his rhythm clearly broken, Cole allowed consecutive doubles, notching the game up at one. Brad Lidge and Jose Contreras provided solid relief to keep the Cards at bay for the rest of the game. Luckily, Carlos Ruiz made sure the bullpen didn’t have to work too long, smacking a walk-off home run in the 10th.
Let’s hear it for Kyle Kendrick. Following his “two bad starts-one great start” trend, Kendrick pitched seven innings of shutout ball, and with the bullpen once again being solid, secured the win and goose egg. Another big victory for the Phils against the Cards.
Let’s hear it for Doc…the perfect man to finish off St. Louis and give the Phillies a much-needed and impressive series win. By his standards, Halladay didn’t have an amazing game, going only seven innings and *gasp* walking three. He struck out nine and gave up only two runs (only one being charged to him). In my entire life watching the Phillies, I don’t think I have ever seen a pitcher where, when he walks on to that mound, I know he’s going to win. If he gets in to jams, he’s going to battle and win. If he loses, he’s not going down without a fight. In the fifth inning, Halladay was presented with jacked bases, two outs and Matt Holliday at the plate. I sat there with absolutely no fear that this game was going to turn the tide. Strikeout on a wicked curve. Seventh inning. Doc gives up a second run and the four-run lead the Phillies had built up was being threatened. Men at second and third and Matt Holliday, once again at bat. Charlie Manuel came out to the mound and Doc was clearly NOT giving up the ball… and Manuel agreed. The crowd roared in approval. Next pitch, groundout. Inning over. Chad Durbin and Danys Baez closed it out, giving Halladay his league-leading sixth win.
Let’s hear it for Jamie Moyer. I refuse to acknowledge his age every time I talk about him, because frankly, it’s worn and tired (I mean honestly, every single time he pitches, do you have to bring up the endless list of ‘”Jamie is so old, when he made his first start…” facts?) After Friday night’s performance though, there is no way to avoid it. Moyer made history by becoming the oldest player to throw a shutout. At 47 years and 170 days, Moyer bested Phil Niekro’s performance in 1986 at 46 years old, and did not resort to knuckleballs… even though his fastball has the velocity of one. Jamie used his pinpoint accuracy to hold the injured Atlanta Braves to only two hits. The night before, the Braves were being threatened by a no-hitter against Scott Olsen and the Washington Nationals.
Last, but not least, let’s hear it Robin Roberts. The greatest and most durable right-handed pitcher in Phillies history passed away on Thursday at the age of 83. Roberts was a member of the famous 1950 “Whiz Kids” who lost to the New Yankees in the World Series that season. The 1976 Hall of Fame inductee was the best right-handed pitcher in the 1950’s, being selected to seven All-Star teams and leading the NL is wins for four consecutive seasons. He spent 14 of his 19 years in a Phillies uniform and has been one of the greatest fans of this franchise. One of his favorite players, Jayson Werth, who was born in the same town of Springfield, IL, paid tribute to Roberts both on Thursday and Friday night, when after hitting home runs, crossed home plate and pointed to the sky.
But, I am proud to say I have my own story about Robin Roberts. My father took me to a baseball card show where Mr. Roberts would be signing autographs. Earlier that year, my dad had purchased for me a reprint of the 1952 Topps set, one of the most famous sets of baseball cards ever. I had taken my reprint card of Robin Roberts to the show to be signed. As any good card collector knows, you never have cards signed, but in this case, since it wasn’t real, there would be no harm. I approached Mr. Roberts and laid down my card. “Wow, I haven’t seen this one in a long time”, said Roberts. Just then, a man jumps in like a Secret Service agent jumping in front of an assassin’s bullet. “What are you doing?! That’s a 1952 Topps! Don’t have that signed!” After we told him it was a reprint, he let out the biggest sigh of relief. After a couple seconds of awkward silence, Robin signed my card with a big smile.
Rest in peace Mr. Roberts.
About the Author
Written by Bryan Sargent
Bryan Sargent is a lifelong Phillies fan, currently residing in the least hospitable city for such a person as himself, New York City. This coming January he will be attending Phillies Phantasy Camp in Clearwater, FL. He is currently documenting the entire process on his blog (http://www.bryansargent.com). You can contact him at email@example.com or follow on Twitter @BTSargent.