By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report
With Roy Oswalt on the 15-day disabled list with a back injury that might be as worse as the 33-year-old right-hander expressed it in St. Louis when he described himself as a “liability” to the team, the Phillies are once again in that position where replacements have to pick up the pieces.
Now if they can an effort like the one they got from Vance Worley in Friday night’s series opening against the Oakland A’s, Phillies fans might be able to feel somewhat better.
Worley, who had a no-hitter going into the sixth inning, was simply superb on the mound. In his six innings, he allowed no runs on just one hit with four strikeouts and four walks. Unfortunately for Worley, it was the all too familiar story of not getting enough run support from his offense.
“He threw strikes when he had to,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. “He had a lot of 3-2 counts, but at the same time I like his stuff.”
The good news for Worley is that he didn’t get the loss as the Phillies wound up getting the 1-0 win over the A’s in the bottom of the ninth inning in on a walk-off RBI-single Ben Francisco that drove home Shane Victorino in front of another sellout crowd at Citizen’s Bank Park. Oakland’s Brian Fuentes got the loss.
Throughout the game, the Phillies hit the ball hard at times, but kept hitting the ball at people until the bottom of the ninth. Victorino started the inning with a walk and moved to second on a single by Domonic Brown. Catcher Brian Schneider grounded out to second on a fielder’s choice that moved Victorino and Brown to second and third. Francisco ended the game by chopping the ball over third baseman Scott Sizemore’s head.
“That’s what we all dream of as kids playing in the major leagues with two outs and a chance to win the game,” Francisco said. “We all live for that even though we’re all old and experienced it a few times, but it’s still fun.”
On a night when he found himself in several 3-2 counts, Worley managed to get through this game on guts, guile and just being determined to keep throwing good pitches. For the game, he threw 105 pitches.
“I’m just trying to be effective even if I’m not phyiscally able to get everything over for a strike,” Worley said. “I don’t like them (3-2 counts), but it’s adversity, it’s something to do. They were taking so many pitches that I tried to throw the ball over the plate and let them put the ball in play.”
The back-end of the Phillies bullpen had another stellar outing and allowed just two hits in the final three innings. David Herndon, Juan Perez and eventual winninng pitcher Michael Stutes combined to keep the Oakland bats quiet.
“Our bullpen did a pretty good job,” Manuel said.
Stutes (3-0), who had a pair of strikeouts in Friday night’s game, continues to be impressive and in his short stint in the majors has raised eyebrows and is putting himself in position to one day to be in the setup or closer’s role. He has earned wins in each of his last three appearances for the Phillies.
“When I got called up, I didn’t know what to do expect,” Stutes said. “(Charlie Manuel) has put me in pretty good situations. I really can’t complain. If he used me once every two weeks, I really can’t complain. I just try to make the most of every opportunity. I’ve been in some pretty big spots and hopefully I’ll being put in those spots. It’s early in the year and I’m feeling strong right now.”
Normally, Manuel would have put Ryan Madson in the game in the ninth to close out the game, but he was unavailable Friday because of a mysterious hand bruise or injury. Manuel said he may be available to pitch in the next three or four days. The team offered no further explanation of Madson’s injury.
A’s pitcher Guillermo Moscoso was just as good as Worley. In seven innings, he allowed no runs on just two hits and three walks.