By Justin Adkins:
The Phillies lost to the New York Yankees 7-1 on Monday, falling to 5-6 on the spring. Starting pitcher Roy Oswalt’s line isn’t that pretty — 5 runs, 3 earned ( up to 7.71 ERA for the spring), over 2 2/3 innings, four hits, three K’s with no walks on 54 pitches — but it’s not really a big deal (there are plenty of other heart attack-inducing storylines to dwell on this spring).
The game for Oswalt was an opportunity to get some work in, specifically with his fastball.
“You gotta pitch off your fastball,” Oswalt said. “The biggest thing down here is to get command of it. You’ve got to get command before you get into the season. If you can get command of that, then your other pitches work a lot better. If you’re not throwing your fastball to spots, you are going to have trouble with your other pitches also.”
So as Oswalt works on locating, it’s a not a surprise that a few guys keyed in on it and put some solid wood on the ball, specifically a three-run home run allowed to Eduardo Nunez in the second and then a two-run home run to Curtis Granderson in the third.
“Two or three times I can throw it where I want to, and then I kind of jerk it,” Oswalt said regarding the pitch. “But it’s coming around.”
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel knows not to worry.
“That’s to be expected when he’s out there getting his work in,” Manuel said.
Offensively, the mighty Wilson Valdez was a one-man show, his solo home run in the sixth accounting for the team’s only run. It was the Phillies first hit of the day. Shane Victorino and Jimmy Rollins did wake up long enough afterward to each contribute a hit.
It’s still very early though, and hitters are working on timing themselves just as pitchers like Oswalt work on location.
But with Utley’s knee deteriorating before our eyes and super-prospect Domonic Brown scuffling terribly then breaking his hand, and now with journeyman Ben Francisco in line to replace the super-villain down in Washington, it’s understandable why some would start to feel a little tightness in the breeches.
For his part, the skipper isn’t worried. “We’re going to score,” Manuel said.
They better, because not even the Four Horsemen can conquer the world without run support.
Cole Hamels is scheduled to start Tuesday against the Orioles. Game time is 1:05pm. Be sure to follow the action in the PSC Phillies Gameday Thread.