Part of the job of a Manager is to put his charges in position to succeed. Perhaps Phillies' Manager Charlie Manuel was partially to blame for Jamie Moyer's first-half ERA of 5.99. Manuel has persisted in starting Moyer every fifth day, rather than simply once per series, every time the Phils match up with the Washington Nationals and Florida Marlins. That plan would net Moyer about a dozen starts, which would be a bit pricey at $6.5 million/season. But at least we could skip the steady procession of six-inning, four-run, starts posted by the veteran hurler. Luckily for the Phillies, the Marlins were on the schedule, for Thursday night.
Moyer was simply brilliant, surrendering just a single hit, in his seven innings. Moyer required only ninety-four pitches (sixty-seven strikes), retiring all but two (one single/one walk) of the twenty-three batters he faced. It was easily Moyer's best performance of the season, as well as one of the best by a Phillies' starting pitcher. Moyer reduced his ERA from 5.99 to 5.58, and had little problem shutting down the Florida bats, as usual. The veteran is now 13-2 against the Marlins, including 8-0 on the road.
Moyer got some support from the bullpen, as Ryan Madson (eighth inning) and J.C. Romero (ninth) each retired the side in order. The bats also came through, with all of the runs coming on home runs. Raul Ibanez hit a pair of homers, giving him twenty-four for the season. Ryan Howard hit his twenty-third homer of the season, and the two-hundredth of his career. The Howard homer set an MLB record, as the slugger became the fastest to reach the two-hundred home run mark, attaining the level in a mere six hundred and fifty-eight games. Charlie Manuel kept Gabor Paul Bako II and Eric Bruntlett off the field, and the Phillies had an easy, relaxing victory.
The Phillies will pursue their third consecutive win of the "easy, relaxing" variety, with ace Cole Hamels facing the Marlins on Friday. Thursday's win increased the Phils' division lead over the second place Marlins to five games. With Pedro Martinez (and Roy Halladay?) soon to bolster the Phillies' rotation, and the Phils' offense continuing to produce, the division advantage should reach double digits in the near future. Especially if Manuel is able to keep Bako out of the lineup.