SAN DIEGO - The prevailing question in Philadelphia sports of late has been: Can Jake Peavy help the Phillies? The answer Tuesday night: As long as he is pitching against them.
After Brett Myers likely was lost for the season with a hip injury last week, questions intensified about the Phillies' already inconsistent rotation, and the front office actively sought an upgrade. As talk radio and the Internet spun rumors about a possible trade for the San Diego righthander, the Phillies summoned 23-year-old lefty Antonio Bastardo from triple A to make Myers' scheduled start last night.
Peavy is typically much more effective than he was in Tuesday night's 10-5 Phillies win over San Diego at Petco Park, which he left after one inning with an upper respiratory infection. But for one game, Bastardo was his superior. Peavy allowed four runs in the first, and threw only 16 of his 33 pitches for strikes.
Bastardo, sporting a fastball that touched 95 m.p.h. in the early innings, surrendered just one run in six innings. The Dominican Republic native allowed four hits and a walk, and struck out five, while his new teammate and translator Raul Ibanez homered twice on his 37th birthday.
"[Bastardo's] adrenaline was going," said manager Charlie Manuel, unable to suppress a grin throughout his postgame news conference. "He was on a rush, and you couldn't have slowed him down if you had to. But he did one thing real good: He was aggressive and he wasn't afraid to throw the ball."
Manuel said that the team would consider granting the rookie another start, and probably would decide by tomorrow.
Bastardo exploited San Diego's unfamiliarity with him, while showing poise and power. His first three pitches in the major leagues were balls to Tony Gwynn, but his next three were strikes; the last pitch of the at-bat was a 95-m.p.h. fastball that Bastardo blew by a swinging Gwynn. In the second, he allowed two two-out baserunners, and pitched out of trouble. After Henry Blanco singled, Bastardo hit Josh Wilson in the back. But he fanned Geer for his fourth strikeout in the first two innings.
He escaped a deeper jam in the third, after allowing two singles to begin the inning. Adrian Gonzalez, the major-league home-run leader, batted with two on and none out, and grounded into a double play; Hairston then flied to right. Gonzalez eventually scored the first and only run off Bastardo, hitting a homer with one out in the sixth.
"I think I did a good job," Bastardo said through interpreter Ibanez. "I couldn't say [I wasn't nervous], but I was a little bit, not that much. As the game went on, I felt better - more relaxed, more confident from the third inning on."
Meanwhile, Peavy's performance undoubtedly was affected by an illness that came after different health concerns had delayed his appearance. The pitcher suffered an inflamed tendon in his right ankle while running the bases against the Chicago Cubs on May 22.
The Padres gave him an extra day's rest, pushing back Monday's scheduled start, but they might have benefited by skipping his turn altogether. After Jimmy Rollins flied out to begin the game, Peavy allowed the next five batters to reach base. Shane Victorino and Chase Utley walked, Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez hit successive doubles, and Jayson Werth singled. Greg Dobbs made the second out with a sacrifice fly that scored Ibanez. Carlos Ruiz then flied to center, ending the inning and Peavy's night.
The Phillies added two runs in the third when Howard walked and Ibanez, celebrating his birthday, hit his 200th career home run (the pitcher who allowed the shot, Josh Geer, turned 26 yesterday). Ibanez added a homer in the seventh - a two-run shot.
"When you hit 37, they all tend to feel the same," Ibanez said, adding that he did not remember whether he had homered before on his birthday. "I don't know," he said, shaking his head. "So many games."
The leftfielder was more interested in praising the young pitcher standing to his right.
"I knew he had a good arm," Ibanez said. "But I didn't know he had that good an arm."