Monday, June 15, 2009

Boston takes two, young guns struggle

Don't be too hard on the young guys in the rotation after struggling in Boston's 2-1 series victory. I mean, we are talking about the Red Sox. That lineup is stacked from top to bottom with world class hitters, and Antonio Bastardo and J.A. Happ are stacked with talent but inexperience. Bastardo was all over the place in his one inning of work, and clearly needs to further develop his off speed stuff to truly compete at this level. There's no question that he has a Major League fastball though, and the potential to develop into a very strong starting pitcher.

Happ got himself into trouble in the second inning, but settled down nicely and kept the Phillies in the ball game, eventually leading to a rally and the Phils salvaging a game in the series. Happ's biggest mistake in the game was not allowing Boston to take a 4-1 lead in the second. It was serving up a lead-off home run to Josh Beckett, immediately following the team's first rally of the day which put them in front 5-4. Happ would settle down once again, albeit briefly, inducing a double play from the speedy Jacoby Ellsbury. Happ is a competitor, has good stuff and a great mentality, and should recover nicely.

Joe Blanton continued his string of strong starts in the first game on the series. He was excellent once again, unfortunately, Jon Lester was even better. The Phillies could have won the opening game, had Greg Dobbs' blast in extra innings not been ruled foul. On television, it appeared to go over the pole, but it's difficult to determine if the camera angle factored into the view. The umpires refused to go to instant replay, which is difficult to understand. If an umpire is adamant that he saw the play all the way, then a replay is not necessary. But in that situation, with a potential game winning home run that close to the pole, it was worth a look. Even if they determined the angle was deceiving, rendering the replay ambiguous, taking an extra look at the play can't hurt. Hopefully the ball really was foul and didn't cost the Phillies a victory, but it did appear to be a fair ball.

Nothing changed in the NL East standing over the weekend, except that the fourth place Marlins went on a minor hot streak, overtaking the Atlanta Braves for third place. The Mets also lost two of three, to the Yankees, in hilarious fashion. They find a different way to lose just about everyday. Luis Castillo's dropped pop-up to end the game was just ridiculous. That can't happen, and yet with the Mets, it does. After bouncing back and tying the series on Saturday with Johan Santana scheduled to pitch the rubber match, Santana was destroyed for nine earned runs in three innings. It's just fun to watch.

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