The Philadelphia Phillies wasted 10 shutout innings from Cliff Lee on April 18 in San Francisco. As such, Phillies fans like myself had less reason to believe that Vance Worley would get much more support against the San Diego Padres on April 19. In any case, Worley is not a Lee-esq shutdown pitcher, so Philadelphia would have to score more than one run for him.
As it turned out, the Phillies only needed two, which was more than enough to beat an equally anemic Padres team. And while Lee was unrewarded for 10 scoreless innings, Worley made out much better with only seven in a 2-0 victory.
After Matt Cain once again shut down the Phillies on the previous night, it was ironic that they got one run at the very start of this game - albeit on a sacrifice fly. Worley then did the rest and actually turned out to be more dominant than Lee in some areas. For one thing, he gave up just four hits while Lee yielded seven, and also racked up a career-high 11 strikeouts.
The Phillies needed Worley to do all of this, just so they could hold on against a last place team. They are used to being carried to that extent by Lee, Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels - yet even Lee clearly isn't enough sometimes. That's why it is more relieving when Worley or Joe Blanton have games like this, so that Philadelphia knows the Big Three isn't carrying the entire load.
Of course, it is easy for Worley to dominate over a San Diego club with the worst record in baseball. When facing the likes of the Padres, 1-0 or 2-0 leads are often enough - and not having to face Cain doesn't hurt either.
It appears that the Phillies must win a lot of these games all year - games that even Lee, Halladay and Hamels can't always win. Yet if Worley pitches like this more often, it could secure a few extra victories that would loom large down the line. However, Blanton was also dominant in his opening start over the Miami Marlins on April 12, only to get knocked around in San Francisco the next time out on April 17.
Worley is not expected to be as consistent as the three aces, so he may go back and forth between great and mediocre starts. Yet having more great starts such as this one than mediocre ones would be good enough for him and the Phillies. After all, in an age where Lee can't even get an extra inning shutout victory, Philadelphia needs all of the help that it can get.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident who has followed the Phillies since he was eight years old.
Other stories from this contributor
- Sports & Recreation
- Vance Worley
- San Diego Padres
- Cliff Lee