Friday, August 13, 2010

Another Broxton feast

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I’m wondering which will happen first: Darrelle Revis successfully renegotiating his contract with the New York Jets or the Phillies reclaiming their lead in the NL East. One thing I know is that the Phillies’ waiting game is much more fun to watch.

From now on when Los Angeles Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton enters a game with the Phillies trailing, I’ll simply say, “The Phils have this one well in hand.” Since Matt Stairs’ moon shot off him in Game 4 of the 2008 NLCS, Broxton has just one save in four opportunities and a 9.82 ERA against Philadelphia. Carlos “Chooch” Ruiz provided the walk-off magic this time around, completing the Phillies’ largest comeback victory of a topsy-turvy 2010 season, but the writing was on the wall before Ruiz dented it with his double.

I can’t claim to know the state of Casey Blake’s ankles four months into a long season, but they had to be in better shape than Bill Buckner’s when a tailor made double play ball came bouncing his way off the bat of Ben Francisco. The replay shows he lifted his glove, expecting the ball to bounce higher than it did, which allowed two runs to cross the plate and the tying run to get into scoring position with nobody out. I don’t even care if Mariano Rivera was on the mound, the Phillies’ win expectancy shot through the roof with that error.

Much kudos go to Ruiz, whose hitting is finally catching up with his defense and excellent handling of the pitching staff. Despite some time spent on the DL, Chooch is putting wood on the ball with much more authority this season. His average with runners in scoring position (.293) is just a point lower than his general batting average, and both would be career highs. Pitchers prefer facing the bottom of the order, but Ruiz is making himself comfortable down there and making an already-potent lineup that much more dangerous.

Such an incredible victory covered up another ugly performance from the bullpen, which allowed a total of 14 runs in just 12 innings during the series. Danys Baez was the only reliever to toss a clean frame last night, lowering his season ERA to 5.40. This remains a glaring issue Philly will continue to deal with through the rest of the season.

But as I said before, it will be an exciting finish that makes me happy I’m not a Jets fan.

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