Friday, May 9, 2008

Webb shuts Phillies down, Rollins joins team on West Coast

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
The Phillies were dominated by the best pitcher in baseball, Brandon Webb, in Thursday's 8-3 loss to the Diamondbacks. Webb pitched a complete game, giving up six hits, to improve his record to 8-0 on the season. The Phillies were shut down most of the way but managed to scrape out two runs in the ninth to make the game seem a little closer than it was.

There is no shame in getting stymied by a pitcher like Webb. He needed 104 pitches to complete the game, and although he only registered 4 strikeouts, he was in control the entire way. Webb is on pace for 37 wins this season, a ridiculous pace, but it is also ridiculous that he nearly has double digits wins at this point of the season.

The Phillies will get a boost on their road trip with the return of NL MVP Jimmy Rollins. Rollins will rejoin the team in San Francisco on Friday, although the Phils are unsure as to when he will actually play. He needs to test out his ankle with the team trainers, but if everything checks out, we will see him thrust back to the top of the line-up ASAP. As Charlie Manuel so eloquently put it: "He's the MVP. He's the shortstop. He helps us, man." Well said, Charlie.

As Rollins returns, Eric Bruntlett will go back to his role as a bench player. While Bruntlett had a shaky start to his time as a starter, he has bounced back to be one of the more reliable all-around players the Phillies have. His defensive play has been solid and his bat has been better than advertised: he picked up 8 RBI's in the 4 game series with the Diamondbacks. Like Tadahito Iguchi last year, Bruntlett provided only a small drop-off in talent when a star player went down with an injury. He will be a valuable asset off the bench for the Phillies in the coming months. How lopsided does the off-season trade of Michael Bourn and Geoff Geary for Bruntlett and Brad Lidge look now?

The Phillies begin their three game series with the San Francisco Giants on Friday night. We were in line to see a re-match between the two young phenoms, Cole Hamels and Tim Lincecum, but the Giants moved their rotation around when they pulled Barry Zito back out of the bullpen and into a starting role again. That means that Hamels will pitch against Pat Misch on Friday and Lincecum will face Jamie Moyer on Saturday. The Phillies will unfortunately not get the opportunity to tee off on Zito in this series.

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