It was a typical Phillies-Mets game, on Thursday night. Phillies fall behind early. Phillies come-from-behind against the Mets' bullpen. The Phillies' bullpen closes out the victory. The Phillies, who trailed 3-1, after five innings, rallied to win, 6-3. The Phils' ten-inning victory, played on a dreary CitiField night, increased their division lead over the Mets to four games.
There were quite a few positives for the Phillies. Jamie Moyer pitched well, for his third consecutive outing. The cagey veteran tossed six effective innings, permitting three runs (eight hits, zero walks/three strikeouts) for a "quality start." With the Phillies' strong offense, defense, and indomitable bullpen, that kind of effort is all they need from Moyer.
That indomitable bullpen shut out the Mets again, allowing only a single baserunner, in four innings. Clay Condrey pitched two of those innings, requiring only seventeen pitches to set down the Mets. (Remember yesterday, when I speculated that Condrey's light recent usage, and his absence from the Wednesday night game, might imply that he had an injury concern? Go ahead and forget that part.) Chad Durbin and Scott Eyre, the winning pitcher, combined on a scoreless ninth. Ryan Madson picked up his second consecutive save, and fourth of the season, slamming the door on the Mets in the tenth.
Raul Ibanez has had a challenging few days, with some unfortunate speculation concerning his outstanding performance this season. (I don't think that this speculation is even worthy of comment, so I will refrain.) Ibanez continued to excel on the field, with an incredible throw from left field, which gunned down a Mets' baserunner at second base. It was his second key assist of the series. Ibanez was 0 for 4 at the plate, heading into his at bat in the tenth inning. With two on, and two outs, Ibanez launched his twenty-first home run on the season. It was a blow from which the Mets never recovered.
Scott Eyre threw only two pitches, in retiring the only batter he faced. After the game, it was announced that he had sustained a calf injury. The extent of the injury won't be known until Friday. In the event the Eyre needs to go on the disabled list, Sergio Escalona would likely be recalled from Lehigh Valley (AAA), to take over LOOGY duties.
The Phillies host the Boston Red Sox this weekend, in interleague action. This could be a preview of the 2009 World Series matchup, provided that the Red Sox can get past the Detroit Tigers in the playoffs. The pitching matchups favor Boston, as their top two pitchers, Jon Lester and Josh Beckett, are both scheduled to pitch. Phillies' ace Cole Hamels will only be available as a pinch-hitter. However, the lack of a designated hitter should help the Phillies, as Boston slugger David Ortiz, who has finally started to hit a bit this week, will be watching from the visitors' dugout.
The Phillies send Joe Blanton to the mound Friday, against Jon Lester. Lester has a deceiving 5.09 ERA; his 10.29 K/9, 3.15 K/BB, and 3.86 FIP illustrate that the young southpaw is one of MLB's top hurlers. Joe Blanton's 4.79 FIP illustrates that the Phils might need to rely on their (INDOMITABLE!) bullpen in the series opener.