Jayson Werth has earned a starting role on merit, but the platoon of Geoff Jenkins and So Taguchi have not. Victorino belongs in centerfield with Werth moving to right, Manuel's hunches be damned.
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Greg Maddux made a career of living on the edges of the plate but last night he was a little too far outside to get those calls and was forced to come back more to the middle. The Phillies made him pay though not so dearly he deserved to lose. Take Ryan Howard's rbi single in the first inning, for example. It was the best argument yet for not employing the shift every time the struggling first baseman comes to bat. The ball was not hit hard and would have been a routine ground out had the shortstop been remotely near his normal position. As it was, the third baseman would have been in the right spot even in the shift had been on had not a runner been on second at the time. Maddux labored in the first inning but he would have emerged unscathed had the Padres employed a normal defensive alignment.
After the game, Maddux was asked if the defeat, his latest failure to reach the 350-win plateau, had not been a big disappointment. "'It doesn't weigh," Maddux said. "It's not a milestone. It really isn't. Trust me, I've been on extra credit for five or six years now. I've stopped pitching for results. I'm just going out there to see how long I can do it.'"
Interesting take from such a fierce competitor, who threw his glove down in disgust after surrendering a hit last night to Cole Hamels.
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Ever since he his early-season troubles throwing the ball and making the pivot, Chase Utley has been a one-man highlights reel, diving, scooping and otherwise shining at second base. It seems those early miscues were an aberration. He isn't the most graceful second baseman by a long stretch, and he has a definite hitch in his throw, but Utley, who simply wills himself to excel, never takes off a moment at bat or in the field.
It's worth reminding ourselves every day we are watching a once-in-a-lifetime sort of player.