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Myers takes small step forward

Apologize for the delay in updating the blog. Paul Hagen and I had an interesting trip home last night. It seems like every time I come to Washington, D.C. I end up getting lost while driving. And last night the trend continued. Apparently when the founding fathers were laying out this city, their goal was to make it as confusing as possible to navigate. They succeeded. It's one of the few places in the country where you can need to be on I-295 South, actually be driving on I-295 South, and STILL be going the wrong way.

That said. . .

I'm not sure what to make of Brett Myers performance last night. The numbers weren't bad - three runs on eight hits in six innings pitched - but he was hit pretty hard by a team that entered the night with the worst batting average in the majors. The Nationals finished the night by tying a season-high with six doubles - five off Myers. The only other time they hit six doubles was on Opening Day, a game that Myers also started.

But Myers said he took a small step forward last night, and labelled his pitching "so-so." Charlie Manuel had a similar description, so I'll go with that.

Here's Paul's take on the situation.

A teaser:

"You can look at a plate of food and see turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy and peas. Or you can see Thanksgiving dinner.

Trying to assess a baseball team is sort of like that. It's possible to break the Phillies down into the bullpen (terrific), the offense (disappointing) and the starting pitching (below average except when Cole Hamels starts) and draw certain conclusions that are completely true and miss the bigger picture at the same time."

Whatever the case, Myers could have pitched a no-hitter last night and the Phils still might have lost. They went 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position, which isn't going to get it done. Prior to the game Ruben Amaro Jr. was asked whether he was concerned about the state of the team's starting pitching, and he responded by offering the philosophy that the Phillies aren't built on starting pitching. Instead, most of their resources are tied up in the line-up, meaning the line-up lead, and the starting pitching simply must give the Phils a chance to win. Last night the starting pitching gave them a chance to win, but the line-up didn't follow.

Whatever they say publicly, I'm positive the club would love to upgrade its rotation. But there simply aren't any options right now. It remains to be seen if Kris Benson will ever be in a position to join the rotation. Carlos Carraso is probably the most ready prospect, but he's still a little ways off. J.A. Happ has put up some good numbers, but I don't know that anybody thinks Happ is the right answer.

Which brings us back to the line-up. . .

For now, the most realistic solution is that the hitters start hitting. In a game in which a good hitter fails 7 out of 10 times, it's a lot of pressure to put on a line-up when you need them to score at least 4 or 5 runs 4 out of 5 starts to have a chance at winning. But it looks like that is where they are at right now.

Tonight, Cole Hamels is on the mound, which is an ideal situation for a team that has lost three straight for the first time all season.