The Philadelphia Phillies' quest to repeat as world champions in 2009 started off rough. I will recap what each team did: on the mound, in the box, next games, records, and standings.
Atlanta Braves 4, Philadelphia Phillies 1.
WP: Derek Lowe (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
LP: Brett Myers (0-1, 6.00 ERA)
Braves on the Mound
Derek Lowe showed why he is one of the most dominate and crafty veteran pitchers out there. Lowe pitched a masterful game, logging eight solid innings of two-hit ball.
In those eight innings, Lowe struck out four while walking none and giving up no runs, earned or otherwise.
In the ninth, Atlanta turned to the left-handed flame-throwing closer, Mike Gonzalez. Gonzalez gave up a lead-off double to the bearded wonder, Eric Bruntlett, who scored on a one-out single by Jayson Werth.
Next came Chase Utley, who walked. Then Ryan Howard looked at a 93 mph fastball right down the pipe for strike three after looking foolish swinging at two sliders out of the zone.
Finally, new left fielder Raul Ibanez struck out swinging on high, hard heat to end the game, stranding runners on first and second.
Phillies on the Mound
Brett Myers showed once again that Opening Day games are not his cup of tea.
After getting two easy outs in the first inning, Myers gave up a double to Chipper Jones. Then came Brian McCann, who smacked a high, hanging change-up to the second deck of Citizens Bank Park for a two-run home run.
Myers' troubles were just beginning. In the second inning, a revamped Jeff Francoeur crushed a fastball to left field for a solo home run.
After retiring Casey Kotchman to secure the first out of the inning, he gave up another home run, this time to rookie center fielder Jordan Schafer, who became the 99th player to homer in his first major league at-bat.
On the bright side, Myers hit 95 on the radar gun. But it did seem to help in quieting the Braves' bats.
The Phillies bullpen showed its strength in relief of Myers.
In his Phillies debut, lefty Jack Taschner pitched a scoreless seventh inning, striking out one. Chad Durbin and Scott Eyre combined for a scoreless eighth inning, each striking out one.
Closer Brad Lidge, in a non-save situation, threw a scoreless ninth inning, striking out one.
The Phillies bullpen combined for roughly a third of a perfect game, with three perfect innings thrown.
Braves in the Box
Three Braves had home runs: McCann, Francoeur, and Schafer.
Chipper Jones went 2-for-4 with two hits and two strikeouts, but the rookie Schafer was the stand-out of the night.
Making his major league debut, Schafer went 2-for-3 with a home run in his first at-bat. He also struck out once and walked once.
As a team: 8-for-35, 3 HR, 4 RBI, 10 SO, 1 BB, 9 LOB, .229 BA.
Phillies in the Box
Words can't even describe the disdain that I have right now for the Phillies hitters.
Swinging at first pitches, taking wild hacks at bad pitches, not making Lowe work hard at all—It was bad.
Jimmy Rollins, Werth, Carlos Ruiz, and Bruntlett all collected hits. The big left-handed three of Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Raul Ibanez went a combined 0-for-11 with three strikeouts and one walk.
As a team: 4 for 31, RBI, BB, 6 K, 8 LOB, .129 BA
I wonder why Myers threw a 3-2 change-up to McCann in the first inning. Worse yet, it hung up there, looking like a high school baseball hitter could crush the thing.
It's a 3-2 count, you know he's going to be swinging. Don't help the guy out by throwing something 83 mph over the plate.
A high-and-inside fastball or a curveball would have worked much better in that situation.
The problem I had with Myers' outing was that he did not establish the fastball well enough. When he wasn't throwing the fastball for strikes, he went back to his assortment of crap pitches; outside of that curveball.
Also, the sharp decrease in velocity had me worried. Myers' fastball in the first inning was clocked at 94-95 mph. By the third inning, he could barely hit 90 on the radar gun.
You would think losing that extra weight would help him regain his velocity.
I guess not.
But I'm not just focusing on Myers' outing on the mound. Them bats have some explaining to do.
I don't know whether it was nervousness, pre-game celebrations/ceremonies, or what, but how could a powerhouse lineup like that be silenced by a pitcher who they beat in the postseason last year?
Look at these numbers from the Philly sluggers:
The top six batters in the lineup went a combined 2-for-23 with four strikeouts, one walk, and one RBI.
It seems the guys you wouldn't think to count on were the only ones to come through.
Bruntlett: 1-for-1, albeit off the bench in a pinch-hitting role.
The Phillies' bats better come alive on Tuesday night, no matter what the weather is like. Snow showers, cold, windy—The bats better be ready to hit and make Braves starter Jair Jurrjens work.
Make Jurrjens work hard, possibly work up a swear, unlike Lowe o- Sunday night.
I guess not signing Lowe four years ago came back to bite them. Not signing Lowe this past offseason will come back to haunt them as well.
Stay turned for Tuesday night's wrap-up.