PHILADELPHIA -- Officially, the Phillies lost, 3-2, when Rudy Seanez surrendered a 10th-inning run and Giants closer Brian Wilson recovered from a blown save the night before, securing a San Francisco win at a chilly Citizens Bank Park on Saturday. But Brett Myers won something, finding the zip on a fastball that he feared had been lost. Catcher Chris Coste noticed it immediately, while playing catch with Myers in the outfield.More
"I noticed it warming up before the game," Coste said. "He wanted to prove to himself, not just everyone else, that he still had his fastball. He had that extra zip. I told [pitching coach] Rich Dubee after about six or seven throws, 'Man, he's got a little attitude on the ball tonight.'" And really, what is Brett Myers without attitude? It's present from the second the right-hander enters the clubhouse on any given day, then channels itself every fifth day into his quieter -- shocking as that sounds -- game-day preparations. The moxie has been absent since back-to-back home starts against Chicago and Houston, on April 11 and 17, respectively. His next two outings, road starts at Colorado and Pittsburgh, had Myers searching for his explosive fastball. His normally 91-95 mph offerings had been sputtering in the 86-89 mph range. Denying that his issue was health-related, Myers studied video from his two effective outings, when he allowed 10 hits and one walk while striking out 13 in 15 innings. "My fastball was there in those two games," he said. "And those were the only two games I'd pitched well in. I wanted to see what I was doing right." Myers noticed better mechanics in those games. He also long-tossed twice between starts, a previously avoided practice that Dubee suggested to build up arm strength. Despite a good pregame bullpen, Myers nearly came unhinged after the Giants plated a run in the first when Fred Lewis walked, stole second and scored on a Randy Winn single. Myers loaded the bases with one out in that inning and received a visit from Dubee. Myers offered that there were expletives exchanged. "Dubee just went out there to make sure he wasn't rattled," Coste said. "He didn't want him to lose it right there, so it was just more of a calm-him-down session, to make sure his head was where it needed to be." Upset at not getting a call that would have struck out Aaron Rowand, Myers escaped by striking out John Bowker and Rich Aurilia, finishing off a 30-pitch frame. Early in the first inning, Myers said he glanced at the scoreboard and was satisfied with his velocity. "Once I saw what I wanted to see, I figured I could use it," Myers said. "Coste put a lot of fastball [signals] down, and I used it effectively. I was real aggressive. I pretty much pitched off of that, and that's the way I'm used to pitching. It worked out well." This was a relief to manager Charlie Manuel and Dubee, who saw Myers abandon the game plan against the Pirates and rely on his cut-fastball. A hard-thrower, Myers needs his fastball to set up all of his other pitches. He had it Saturday night and it accounted for 10 strikeouts in a 121-pitch performance. "He was very, very good, and very fun to catch," Coste said. Other than Winn's single, the only other run San Francisco scored off Myers came on Lewis' fifth-inning home run. The Phillies managed little against the equally dominant Matt Cain, save for a Chase Utley home run in the fourth -- his Major-League leading 13th -- and Geoff Jenkins' game-tying homer in the fifth. The scored remained tied until the 10th, when the Giants plated a run after Winn singled, stole second and scored on Bengie Molina's single to left. The Phillies had another chance at closer Brian Wilson, who mixed in sliders, rather than relying on all fastballs, like he did Friday. He walked Pat Burrell to start the 10th, but escaped when he retired Jenkins, Carlos Ruiz and Eric Bruntlett. Philadelphia recorded three hits off Cain, though Jack Taschner picked up the win. "Cain handled us," Manuel said. "We didn't do a great job of driving that fastball," Coste said of Cain. "We knew he was going to throw them. We just didn't do a good job of hitting them." Manuel was happy with Myers' effort. "That was the best I saw his fastball," he said. "That's a good sign. I saw 92, 93 and that was encouraging."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less