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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Game 89: Phils sweep second-place Marlins (51-38)

The Phils won over the Fish today, 5-0, to open up a large 7-game lead in the division. J.A. Happ pitched 7 scoreless innings despite 2 errors, allowing only 5 hits. Ryan Madson and JC Romero combined to pitch a scoreless 8th inning, while Scott Eyre and Brad Lidge pitched a scoreless 9th inning to complete the 3-game sweep.

Ryan Howard got an off-day today against LHP Andrew Miller, with Eric Bruntlett playing first base. Bruntlett is not really an upgrade over Howard against lefty pitching, and since they are just coming off the all-star break and a postponed game yesterday, today was an odd choice to give Howard a day off. Either way, Happ's performance made the decision moot.

I do not agree with Brad Lidge's appearance in the 9th inning. He threw a lot of pitches on Friday night, and he has now pitched in two of the past three days without an off-day in the near future. If he is needed in the next two games, he may be unavailable the following game. Scott Eyre retired the first two batters of the 9th inning, but after allowing Emilio Bonifacio to reach base, Charlie Manuel decided that the 0.3% chance of the Marlins' tying the game was enough to use the closer. Lidge only needed three pitches, but it was an unnecessary risk to use your closer when the game is essentially over. Questionable use of Lidge, at best.

Regardless, the Phils have won 8 straight games. They will have, at worst, a 6.5-game division lead going into tomorrow's 7:05 pm game against the Cubs when RHP Rodrigo Lopez faces LHP Ted Lilly.

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