Farewell Phillies

I kept looking at the calendar today to see if I had somehow done a Rip Van Winkle and overslept a day. I have no other explanation for the sheer number of afternoon games that the Diamondbacks are playing this season. For the second time in the home stand the Arizona Diamondbacks game starts in the early afternoon. This time is a real getaway day not like against the Astros when the next day was an off day for both Arizona and Houston. No, after the game today the Diamondbacks will travel to Chicago to take on the Cubs tomorrow afternoon; how appropriate. But before we get ahead of ourselves looking forward to the Cubs series, there is still the little matter of the final game against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Everyone keeps saying that there are no must win games in April or May or even June but I don’t necessarily agree with them. This is about as close to a must win as there is given the time of year. After a quick start to open the season the Diamondbacks have begun to drift back to earth. It wouldn’t be so bad given their domination over the other National League Western Division teams but the Los Angeles Dodgers have gotten white hot all of a sudden and the Diamondbacks have seen their lead melt away. Additionally, if they could somehow win this final game against the Phillies they would end this home stand 5-5 which would have to make them feel much better than 4-6. Finally, a win today would salvage a split with the Phillies in this 4-game series meaning they would not have lost 2 consecutive series yet this year, always a good moral booster.

Diamondbacks players and fans had to be feeling pretty good looking at the pitching match-up for this important game. Ace Brandon Webb was scheduled to go for the Snakes and it really didn’t matter who the Phillies put-up as their starter. After starting the season 7-0 in seven starts everyone just seems to expect Webb to win every time out. We all know that is not going to happen but still it is hard not to think that way. Today’s game was a perfect example of that. While recently Webb has seemed to rely on his breaking ball and change-up; today was Webb-classic with the Philadelphia hitters getting a steady diet of nasty sinkers. During his previous couple of starts the sinker seemed to be moving more laterally than vertically. It appeared that Webb’s arm slot had dropped slightly which made you wonder whether he may be favoring the arm due to dead arm or some other minor problem. Today erased any question marks when he reverted to his old self. I am sure the Phillies hitters didn’t appreciate it nearly as much as the Diamondbacks and their fans. Going into the ninth inning Webb seemed to be in complete control. His pitch count was manageable and the assumption was that he would pitch his first complete game of the season. That all changed relatively quickly with three singles and a stolen base brought the Phillies within 5 runs. Bob Melvin had seen enough and emerged from the dugout to remove Webb from the game. From the stands you could tell that Webb and Snyder were both in agreement that no pitching change was needed. Melvin relented and left Brandon in the game with 1 out and a man on first. After Geoff Jenkins leveled the count at 2-2; Webb threw a seriously wicked sinker which Jenkins hit back to the mound. Webb knocked it down then recorded a 1-6-3 double play ending the rally and the game. It was a great win and I was pretty relieved to get out of town with a split. The Phillies are a great ball club and I’d be happy if we don’t have to face them again come October.

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