Brett Myers Pitches Well in Win Against Cubs; Can Improve Focus to Become Ace of Staff

Todd TranauskyCorrespondent IApril 11, 2008

The Phillies broke their two game winning streak with a 5-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs to open a nine game homestand at Citizens Bank Park. Brett Myers got his first win of the season, pitching eight solid innings for the Phils. Carlos Zambrano took the loss for the Cubs, allowing five earned runs in six innings. Brad Lidge pitched a scoreless ninth for his second save as a Phille.

The Cubs jumped out to a 2-0 lead early when Derek Lee and Aramis Ramirez hit back to back homeruns with two outs in the first. Myers retired 12 of the next 13 hitters he faced before Alfonso Soriano hit a solo homerun to lead off the sixth inning and tie the game at three.

Before the Soriano home run, Pat Burrell launched a two run homer deep into the left-field seats to tie the game at two. Burrell is hitting over .400 in the first week of his contract season. Burrell is due to be  

The following inning Shane Victorino walked and then scored on a Greg Dobbs double that gave the Phils their short-lived 3-2 lead.

Myers established himself as a stopper in the Phils rotation with this outing, but he is not the ace of the staff. He was able to stop the Phils two game losing streak and rest the Phils bullpen by pitching eight innings, but he also failed to the things that are required of an ace in a Major League rotation.

After Myers got two quick outs to start the game, he allowed back to back homeruns to put his team in an early hole before they ever stepped in the dugout. When the aces of staffs pitch and they have two outs in an inning, they know how to finish off the inning and make sure their team has the momentum. Myers failed to do that.

In the sixth inning, after his teammates pegged him to a 3-2 lead Myers needed to protect that lead. Instead, the first batter he faces, Soriano, takes him deep to retie the game. Aces of staffs shut down the opposition after their teammates get them the lead, especially in the inning right after they are handed a lead.

Instead, Myers gave the Cubs back the momentum and gave his team and emotional letdown, by failing to keep the Cubs off the scoreboard. Aces of staffs don’t do that.

Myers needs to work on bearing down at the beginning and end of innings to become a better pitcher and get to the level of a staff ace on a Major League team. Myers has the talent to hold that role, but lacks the focus and commitment to always attain that level on every pitch or every outing. 

Cole Hamels has established himself as the team ace and Myers should not let himself think that he is still the leader of this pitching staff. Myers had opportunities on the field to win that role and he failed to do it. Hamels has remained calm and collected, even after taking a loss in his first start of the year when his teammates were kept off the scoreboard against the Nationals.