Saturday, June 19, 2004

Byrd of Pray

Citizens Bank Park isn't much better than Veterans Stadium at handling the drenching humidity that smothers greater Philadelphia at this time every year. The open-air concourses allow you to catch some wind, but down in the seats, you really end up sweating it out. Such was my experience, anyway, on Thursday afternoon, when I lasted five innings against the Tigers before hustling back to work, and Friday night, when the missus and I endured seven dreadful innings of the Royals' pummeling of the Phils' patchwork pitching staff.

Brett Myers held Detroit in check for much of Thursday's game, and the Phillies supplemented his effort and Jason Michaels' timely hitting with some nifty glove work. Billy Wagner, alas, blew a save in the nightcap, and the Phils were unable to complete the sweep. Last night's game was largely forgettable, with Paul Abbott returning to form and getting whacked around the ballpark. The Phillies mounted a couple of mini-rallies but still ended up falling, 10-4.

The more interesting story to me last night was that the Phils burned through three centerfielders. This was a run-of-the-mill, nine-inning game, mind you. Marlon Byrd's troubles were thoroughly chronicled by the Inquirer's Todd Zolecki and, more ominously, by the Daily News's Bill Conlin yesterday, and when Byrd, hitting eighth, was replaced as part of a double-switch in the fifth, I nearly did a spit-take before realizing that beer at CBP is way too pricey a commodity to so waste. I don't know if it's an Ed Wade thing or a Larry Bowa thing, but somebody needs to decide who has the job and let him play.

Eric Milton finally quieted the Royals' bats, picking up the win in tonight's 4-2 victory, but the Phils' inconsistency, this time in the form of just six hits, again was on full display. I'll take the win, of course, but I just can't shake a nagging fear that this team, on paper the clear class of the division, will need to thrash and tear its way to a playoff spot.


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