I don't think it's too much of a stretch to say that Tuesdays' win against the Marlins was the biggest of our still relatively young season. It was a game that started out like many of the other horrorshows the Phils have taken in part in recently--giving up quick runs, getting in scoring chances early and squandering them with double plays and strikeouts, coming back in one inning only to relinquish the lead again in the next.
The Phils had every opportunity to give up on that game, but for the first time in what feels like...probably a lot longer than it's actually been, the boys rallied back each time, eventually taking the game by a 10-8 final. It was the legitimate breakout performance we kept expecting over their miserable last few weeks, but were consistently denied. And on a night when the future of the NL East was breathing down their necks, the Phillies simply could not have picked a better moment for such an "F--- you, we're not dead yet" statement.
The good news? Tonight we get to follow up the win by sending Roy Halladay to the mound, who somehow managed to win his last two decisions even amidst the team's offensive woes (going 27 up / 27 down in one of them certainly helps). The ungood news? The offense has to try to encore against Josh Johnson, the towering Marlins ace who probably ranks as the division's second-best pitcher. (Well, with more than one career start, anyway.) JJ is off to a predictably beastly start this season (6-2, 2.10 ERA, over 3:1 K/BB), and in his last start against the Phils, he was a Cameron Maybin error away from forcing Doc to stretch his perfecto into extras.
As a pre-emptive strike against Johnson, Charlie Manuel has reinserted Jayson Werth into the starting lineup for the game. After a nice two-day rest in which the offense managed to get back on track without him, we can only hope that Jayson can now cease putting the weight of the entire city into each of his two-strike swings for the fences, and ease back into being the brilliant all-around hitter we all know him to be. With Ryan starting to groove just a little, and Chase and Raul looking like they're starting to catch up themselves, there's really no overestimating how powerful this lineup can be with Raw Power back in a good headspace.
7:05 pitch from CBP. You're not likely to see a better showdown of aces this year, so let's just hope our offense can provide the kicker. (Yeah, sorry, my skin crawled a little at that one too. Whatever, wash it down with some Maiden.)