Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Deep Thoughts | One of the things I was thinking about when I wrote yesterday about the experience of attending baseball games was the chance to witness something special with my own eyes. So there were Dad and I at the Park, in the midst of the Phils' 8-7 win (Inquirer; Daily News) over the Dodgers, watching Bobby Abreu, Pat Burrell, and Jim Thome go back-to-back-to-back against Wilson Alvarez in the fourth. This was a first for me, and it was very, very cool.

As for the rest of the game, there was a lot to like and a lot to dislike. The teams played pinball last night, launching a combined nine homers, including two each by Burrell and Los Angeles's Jason Grabowski (no, really). Vicente Padilla, his velocity down, was rocked at the outset but hung on to throw seven gutty innings, and the Phillies got him off the hook with a determined comeback fueled by all the long balls. Amaury Telemaco pitched an effective eighth, and with the Phils up 7-6, Marlon Byrd singled home an insurance run in the bottom of the frame that would prove huge.

After Byrd's hit, the heavens opened and drenched us all. The stadium cleared out. Some of us hung around under cover to catch the end of the Flyers' loss to Tampa Bay on the big screen. After a 41-minute rain delay, the Phils were retired in the eighth inning, and Tim Worrell took the hill for a save attempt for the second straight game. The ninth was an adventure, with Olmedo Saenz's tater drawing the Dodgers to within a run and Jimmy Rollins juggling a hard ground ball before barely getting a force at second to end the game.

Worrell was admirably candid on the postgame radio show about his failings Monday and his struggles last night. I'm a sucker for good guys; it's the main reason I can't join fully in the seasonlong effort by my fellow Phillies bloggers to slip a shiv between Doug Glanville's ribs. But I do acknowledge that honest self-assessment is no substitute for talent, especially on a contending team. Indeed, Worrell's impressive accountability aside, what he has shown thus far is clearly not closer material. His fastball was in the low-to-mid 80s last night, and his pitches were up in the zone. If it wasn't obvious before, it sure is now -- Billy Wagner's return is imperative. As Jim Salisbury notes today, the Phillies simply cannot afford for him (and the more-dinged-than-he's-letting-on Thome) to be out too long.

Eric Milton gets the ball against Hideo Nomo tonight, a prospect which concerns Dodger Thoughts' Jon Weisman:

[Nomo's] strikeouts have vanished like D.B. Cooper; home runs have sprouted like weeds. There have been games of endurance, but none of dominance.

If Tuesday night's five-homer performance by Philadelphia was any evidence, Nomo is hours away from facing a formidable offense in a formidable ballpark. The Joy of Cooking offers this recipe for disaster in both Japanese and American cuisines.

His vulnerability is a secret to no one.

Baseball being baseball, you can cringe at the thought of Nomo taking the mound and still retain the hope that somehow, the Strat-o-Matic dice will roll and land on outs enough times.

You'll root for him to survive, a batter at a time.

And you'll hope that they know when to throw in the towel, knowing that other battles lay ahead, next week, next month, next year.

You hope that something unpleasant doesn't become something nasty.


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