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Coming Home to Roost
2008-03-31 22:34
by Mike Carminati

Home? I have no home. Hunted, despised, living like an animal. The jungle is my home. But I will show the world that I can be its master. I will perfect my own race of people, a race of atomic supermen, which will conquer the world.

—Edward D. Wood's "Bride of the Monster"

The Phils opened the season in a rather microcosmic fashion today. The big bats connected, and the pitching coughed up a lead and then the game.

One the positive side, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley connected for prodigious shots to rally the Phils back from a 6-2 deficit.

On the negative side Rollins committed a costly error in the fifth to put the Nats ahead 4-2.

Brett Myers' much ballyhooed return to the mound as a starter was less than spectacular. He lasted just five innings and allowed four runs (three earned). People seemed to forget that his short stint in the rotation last season was abysmal. And one of the reasons that he was moved to the pen was that he became less effective after the first few innings. In 2006, his last full season as a starter, he saw homers skyrocket after three innings (20 in 418 at bats as opposed to 9 in 338 in the first three innings) along opponents' OPS (.678 through three, .785 innings 4-6, and .835 thereafter). I guess that's what you get when you go with a number three starter cum closer in opening day.

What was even worse was how the bullpen bungled a close game and then led a tie ballgame be eviscerated after the offense rallied. First, Ryan Madson in his first appearance since July 29 grooved a pitch to Lastings Milledge for a two-run shot to put the Nationals up, 6-2 in the sixth.

The coup de grace, however, was Tom Gordon's most untriumphant return to the closer role. With the game tied 6-6 in the top of the ninth, Gordon allowed a single, a walk, and three doubles (to go with a Carlos Ruiz throwing error) to give up five runs in one-third of an inning for a mind-bottling (god bless you, Chazz Michael Michaels) 135.01 ERA.

So where are we? Just about where we knew we were. The bullpen is a bust. The new third baseman went 0-for-4 with 2 Ks while leaving three men on—how Wes Helms-ian! Maybe we are even worse off since the makeshift rotation wasn't supposed to spring a leak until after the top two guys. But really, we were just giving Myers too much credit all along. Another poor start and more Tom Gordon and we will hear calls for him to return to the bullpen. Of course, with a depleted rotation that is not even possible at this point.

To sum up…

Countdown to 100 wins. Current win total: 0. Wins to go: 100.

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