WASHINGTON - The lockers for Chan Ho Park and Sergio Escalona sat across the room from each other in the visitors' clubhouse at Nationals Park, and after yesterday's 8-6 Phillies win, their occupants presented a strong contrast in moods.
Escalona, a 24-year-old lefthander who pitched a scoreless seventh inning to earn the victory in his major-league debut, smiled and spoke rapidly. "Oh my God. Amazing. Yeah," he sputtered, sweat gleaming on his face and neck. "First game, first win."
The Phillies have two relievers with major-league experience pitching for triple-A Lehigh Valley, Mike Koplove and Gary Majewski. But in need of another arm, they summoned Escalona from double-A Reading on Saturday, despite having three lefties already in their bullpen.
Escalona has pitched well this season. In 171/3 innings for Reading, he has allowed 15 hits and four runs, striking out 16 and walking eight. He has a 2.08 ERA and 10 saves in 14 games.
Pitching coach Rich Dubee said that "flexibility" - Escalona has more options than the veterans in triple A - was the primary reason for Escalona's call-up, which will likely be brief.
No matter how long the pitcher remains with the team, however, he will not soon forget yesterday's success. "Unbelievable, really," he said, grabbing a phone from the locker and pointing to the screen. "14 texts!"
As Escalona spoke, Park sat on a stool, his face devoid of expression. Many vocal Phillies fans made the short trip for this weekend's series against the Nationals, and most were booing as Park walked off the field in the second inning, having allowed five runs in 11/3 innings and closing with a bases-loaded walk.
Park attributed the performance to an ill-fated change in his game plan. "I had a good plan," he said. "The four-seam fastball makes me more aggressive. But the first two guys hit it on a four-seam fastball, and then I started going to sinkers. And the sinker didn't have good command."
"I was pretty concerned," said manager Charlie Manuel, who hinted that he was closer to making changes in his rotation. "Chan Ho had a bad outing."
Drew Carpenter lasted only 41/3 innings in his first major-league start Saturday night, short of the five typically required to earn a win (the Phils went on to beat Washington, 7-5). After the rain-shortened game, the 23-year-old righthander was optioned back to triple-A Lehigh Valley, disappointed that he did not record the victory.
But rain, and a little-known rule, awarded him a win after all. As per Rule 10.17(b)(2) in the Major League Baseball rule book, because the Phillies played five innings on defense, Carpenter had to pitch just four innings to be eligible for the win if his team was leading at the time he was removed. So Clay Condrey, who originally got the win, instead earned a save.
Frank Coppenbarger, the Phillies' director of travel, ensured that Carpenter received a souvenir of his milestone. Coppenbarger made sure the team saved two game balls and the official lineup card, which the Phils will have framed and sent to Carpenter.
Lefthanded reliever J.C. Romero will make his first rehabilitation appearance tonight for Lehigh Valley. Romero is serving a 50-game suspension for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances. Barring rainouts, he is eligible to return to the Phillies on June 3.
Jamie Moyer, scheduled to pitch tomorrow in Cincinnati, has been pushed back to Wednesday. Cole Hamels will start tomorrow's series opener. Manuel gave two reasons for the change: It allowed extra rest for the struggling Moyer, and lined him up to face the Marlins next week instead of the Yankees. Moyer is 12-1 lifetime against Florida. "I wanted to give Jamie a little break," Manuel said.
Brad Lidge earned his second save since blowing one Friday, but did not begin the ninth inning on the mound. With the Phillies leading by 8-6, Manuel allowed Scott Eyre, who pitched in the eighth, to face the first two batters, both lefthanders.