Sunday, April 5, 2009

Braves-Phillies, Lowe Dominates-Myers Doesn't

The Philadelphia Phillies begin their defense of their Championship against the Braves to kick off the 2009 baseball season. Jon Miller and Joe Morgan are being joined in the broadcast booth by Steve Phillips, so this should be fun. Maybe having Steve say a lot of dumb things will free Joe to do what he's best at - explain in-game things (such as the positioning of defenders or pitch sequencing). And give credit where it's due; Joe really is very knowledgeable about that kind of stuff. The problem is how consistently he talks about other things that he doesn't understand very well.

With Cole Hamels injured, it'll be (hopefully just former) wife-beater Brett Myers on the hill for Philly. Funny how nobody cares about that, but Bonds and A-Rod are demonized for taking something to be better at baseball. [It was still wrong of them, but I think the double-standard isn't really fair.]

Top 1:
  • Kelly Johnson flies out to start things off.
  • Yunel Escobar swings at the first pitch and grounds out to short.
  • Chipper Jones up, and the stats that ESN puts up contain OPS, along with an explanation. Jon Miller is going over it on the broadcast, and they also show the league average. Small steps, but they're getting there. Larry singles to left-center and is now hitting 1.000 on the season. Obviously that means he's going to make another run at .400.
  • Brian McCann crushes one to deep right, and the Braves have an early lead, 2-0. Change-up in the middle of the plate that McCann just unloaded on.
  • Garrett Anderson, "Professional Hitter", grounds out to first to end the inning. Hey, at least he can play defense a little.
Bottom 1:
  • Patented Derek Lowe sinker for ball one to Jimmy Rollins. J-Roll (I assum that's how that works with him) grounds to the sure-handed Casey Kotchman at first.
  • Jason Werth, who had a great under-the-radar season in 2008, pops out.
  • It was questionable if Chase Utley would be ready for Opening Day, but he's in there. Utley with a drive to deep right, but Frenchy is able to track it down.
Top 2:
  • Jeff Francouer swings at the first pitch (nothing new) and hits a line-drive in the seats in left. 3-0, Braves. Keith Law was asked in a chat recently which would be bigger; the number of Oreos he could eat in a single sitting, or the number of walks Francouer would draw this year. Answer: Oreos. Considering Frenchy should get about 35 free passes, that provides some interesting info. about the Klaw.
  • Kotchman goes down swinging.
  • Jordaon Schafer (who's white, apperently) homers to left-center in his first major-league at bat. Fastball a little down and away, and Schafer went with it to the opposite field.
  • Myers gets Lowe for his second strike-out.
  • Johnson - batting for the second time in asmany innings - flies to center for the second time.
Bottom 2:
  • A whole bunch of sliders eventually gets Ryan Howard swinging.
  • Raul Ibanez and Shane Victorino both ground out to short. Lowe is doing his thing.
Top 3:
  • Another long drive off Myers - this time by Escobar. It bounces high off the left-center wall, and Yunel goes into second standing with a lead-off double.
  • Sharp 3-2 curveball gets Chipper swinging.
  • McCann pops out to third.
  • Anderson grounds to first again to end the inning.
Bottom 3:
  • A double by Carlos Ruiz but he's left stranded. Still 4-0.
Top 4:
  • Two-out single by Schafer up the middle, but Myers retires Lowe to end the inning.
Bottom 4:
  • Werth grounds to third, with Kotchman picking Chippers throw out of the dirt.
  • Now a great diving stop by Kotchman at first, with the throw to Lowe covering to get Utley.
  • Howard grounds to Escobar on the right side of second-base (they had the shift on) for the third out.
Top 5:
  • Myers sets Johnson down for his fourth K of the game.
  • Escobar grounds out to his counterpart at short.
  • Chipper with a drive to deep center goes over Victorino's head (the Flyin' Hawaiian didn't take the best route to the ball) and bounces over the wall for a ground-rule double.
  • Strike-out number five send McCann (and Jones, I guess) back to the dugout.
Bottom 5:
  • Ibanez grounds out to short again. Wonder when they'll regret that contract. 2010? June? Last month, maybe?
  • Victorino swings and misses another Lowe sinker for the pitcher's second K tonight.
  • Joe Morgan is talking about how much Gary Sheffield means to a team. I can't wait until Sheff retires, if for no other reason than to shut Joe up about him.
  • Feliz goes down swinging. Through five innings the Phillies have had one baserunner.
Top 6:
  • Anderson starts things off with a single, and moves around to third on a couple of groundouts.
  • Myers intentionally walks Schafer, after the rookie had a couple of hits (including that homer) in his first two at bat.
  • Lowe tries to drop down a bunt, but it goes foul before Ruiz could get to it. After getting ahead 0-2 and then falling behind 3-2, Myers comes back to get Lowe looking.
Bottom 6:
  • Jimmy Rollins picks up the Phillies' second hit of the game, singling up the middle with two outs. Greg Dobbs pinch-hit for Myers, so there will be someone new on the mound in the next inning.
  • Werth lines one up the middle, but Lowe is able to snag it for the third out.
Top 7:
  • Lefty Jack Taschner in from the Philadelphia pen. He gets Johnson to ground out to second to start the seventh.
  • Escobar follows suit.
  • Chipper goes down looking on a fastball off the outside corner. Early on it looked like this might be a blowout, but the Phillies still need to cut into the 4-0 Braves lead soon.
Bottom 7:
  • Another 1-2-3 innging for Lowe (including two more groundouts).
Top 8:
  • With two outs, Chad Durbin is brought in to face Francouer, who's 0-8 against him in his career. Jon Miller - the chances of Francouer getting on are low. Steve Phillips - he's due. Me - you're both idiots that don't understand what small sample size means, but Jon is less wrong since Frenchy's chances of getting on-base in general aren't that good (31.2% career). He strikes out, by the way.
Bottom 8:
  • Lowe still working on his shutout, gets Victorino to tap one back to the mound on the first pitch.
  • Feliz strikes out swinging.
  • Ruiz grounds out to short. Didn't the Phillies lead the NL in runs last year?
Top 9:
  • Brad Lidge in for the ninth, and he retires the Braves in order.
Bottom 9:
  • It is the first game of the season, so I understand Atlanta bringing in closer Mike Gonzlez despite Lowe only throwing 97 pitches in his eight shutout innings. Derek had both the sinker and the breaking-ball working, and his control was excellent. Not much the Phillies could have done against that.
  • Pinch-hitter Eric Bruntlett doubles down the left-field line (off the chalk, infact) to start the Philadelphia attack in the ninth.
  • Rollins lines out to right, with Bruntlett moving over to third.
  • Werth pulls a single passed a diving Jones at third to cut the lead to 4-1. The Braves have action in their bullpen, even with some lefties coming up (against the lefty, Gonzalez).
  • Utley walks on five pitches. Maybe they should have tried to stretch Lowe out, given his easy eighth inning.
  • Howard chases a low pitch early in the at bat, and Gonzalez comes back to strike him out looking with a fastball later. Two down.
  • Ibanez chases a slider himself, even though it would have been ball four. Then he swings and misses a good 93 mph fastball for strike three. Horrible approach by the Phillies hitters against a guy who couldn't throw strikes.
Very good game for the Braves. They take an early lead in what should be an exciting NL East race this year.

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