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Phil’s Home Opener a Reoccurring Nightmare

April 6, 2009
by Christine Cartafalsa

Over 44,000 fans showed up for the season home opener of the Philadelphia Phillies. Notably absent – the 25-man roster making up the team.

The Phillies did not shine in their home opener. They didn’t even emit a dull glow, managing only four hits.

Derek Lowe, making his debut with the Atlanta Braves, kept the batters off balance all night, only allowing two hits in eight innings on the mound. Only when he was replaced with Braves reliever Mike Gonzales did the Phillies score a run off of Jason Werth’s RBI single in the ninth. Chase Utley, who was 0 for 3 tonight, walked, leaving the door open for power hitters Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez to tie up the game. Both continued their hitless streaks as Howard seemed to not expect a fastball thrown right down the middle of the plate following a series of sliders. Ibanez, who had grounded out at his three previous at bats, decided to change things up a bit to go down swinging this time.

It was not a good night for the Phillies.

As the bats continued to struggle, the only worse battle took place on the mound as starting pitcher Brett Myers dealt fans a painful reminder of just how he started the season off last year. Myers surrendered three home runs in his first two innings, including one to rookie Jordan Schafer, who was making his major league debut. Schafer also singled off of Myers, warranting an intentional walk in the 6th inning so Myers could face pitcher Lowe. He struck him out and saved the inning, but barely having Lowe at a 3-2 count before finally managing to end the inning. By the time the sixth inning was over, Myers had given up 4 runs on 8 hits, but managed to strike out six.

Atlanta’s bats were finally silenced by the Phillies bullpen, serving up four strike-outs between them, but the damage was already done and, despite a rally in the ninth inning, the defending champions fell 4-1 in the speedy season opener.

Does this mean that another trip to the minors will be in Brett Myers’ near future?

With 161 games to go, there isn’t much call to begin questioning Myers’ pitching or the quiet bats. The Phillies always seem to have a slow start to all of their seasons. Still, it is far too close to what had plagued the team last year. Myers may have had a shaky start, but he had only given up four runs which certainly is not too deep of a hole for the rest of the team to dig themselves out of. The Phillies may have managed to win it all in 2008 with a considerably low batting average in the end, but to start off that way doesn’t exactly call for the parade floats to be prepared just yet. To bring that type of hope to the city of Philadelphia will require playing to win instead of playing not to lose.