Burrell part of Phils’ big inning

Posted: October 01, 2008

Pat Burrell couldn't believe his luck.

The Phillies leftfielder strained his lower back on a swing during batting practice yesterday at Citizens Bank Park, which put in doubt his status for Game 1 of the National League division series against Milwaukee.

But after Burrell took batting practice before today's game, he was cleared to play.

He worked an important two-out walk in the third inning to load the bases. Brewers righthander Yovani Gallardo then walked Shane Victorino on five pitches to give the Phillies a 3-0 lead.

The Phillies won, 3-1, and Burrell said he felt fine afterward.

"I think it's like anything else," he said. "If you have a little flare-up with something, you've got to stay on it and keep after it so it doesn't stay a problem. It's been something I've had to deal with before. But I don't want to take anything away from what happened today and the way Cole [Hamels] pitched. I'm fine."

Eaton goes home

The Phillies sent righthander Adam Eaton home rather than have him pitch in the Florida Instructional League or remain with the team. He stayed with the team last season even though he did not make manager Charlie Manuel's postseason roster.

"He couldn't help us," assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "Charlie felt, and the staff felt, that he wasn't pitching effectively enough to be part of our postseason roster."

Rudy Seanez and fellow righthander Kyle Kendrick, who is pitching in the instructional league, would be the team's first choices if there is an injury to someone on the 11-man pitching staff.

Eaton is in the second year of a three-year, $24.5 million contract, which has been an utter failure. Eaton went 10-10 with a 6.29 ERA last season, and 4-8 with a 5.80 ERA this season. He also went 0-5 with a 7.02 ERA in five minor-league starts. He is owed $9 million in 2009, which includes a $500,000 buyout.

Asked about Eaton's status in the organization, Amaro said that the Phillies "really haven't discussed his future here yet. He's still on our 40-man roster. He's still in our organization. We'll see how things shake out during the course of the off-season."

But Amaro said he doesn't have any reason to believe Eaton won't be with the team in spring training.

"But again, we haven't had a formal discussion about it," he said.

Seanez out

The Phillies chose lefthander J.A. Happ to be in their bullpen over Seanez, who went 5-4 with a 3.53 ERA in 42 appearances.

"That was the toughest decision we had to make," Manuel said. Seanez "played a big part in our season, especially early on all the way up through until about July. And then he hit a little down period. He definitely did a tremendous job for us. . . . Happ was left on the roster in case we needed a long guy real early and also if we get into a situation where the game goes extra innings and we need a multiple-inning guy, he'll go in and finish the game out."

Wild Thing

Mitch Williams threw out a first pitch before the game and chucked it about 20 feet over the head of catcher Lou Marson and the Phillie Phanatic, who played umpire.

Obviously, it was planned.

"I had to warn the cops behind the plate, because I didn't want to hit anybody," Williams said.

Smoltz likes the Bank?

Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz, long a critic of the cozy dimensions of Citizens Bank Park, is a color commentator for TBS.

Before Game 1, Smoltz praised the ballpark as "the best for fans. They're on top of you. It's fun. You feel like you're part of the game.

"It's a nice stadium - just from a pitcher's standpoint, it's very difficult. That's why I'm amazed how well Hamels has done and how mature he is. His ERA is ridiculous in this stadium."

Hamels made 17 starts at home and posted a 2.99 ERA in 1171/3 innings. Overall, he was 14-10 with a 3.09 ERA this season.

Calling Thome's shot

Manuel called it. As he sat down to watch last night's American League Central playoff game between the Chicago White Sox and the Minnesota Twins, he told his fiancée, Missy, that Sox slugger Jim Thome would have a big game.

"I told her that Thome was going to hit a home run to win the game," Manuel said.

Sure enough, Thome hit a mammoth homer in the seventh to give the Sox a 1-0 win and the AL Central title.

Manuel was Thome's hitting guru during their time together with the Cleveland Indians.

Brewers seeing something?

The Brewers seemed to lay off Brad Lidge's slider in the ninth inning, which is tough for most hitters to do. Could the Brewers be picking up something in Lidge's delivery that is tipping his pitches?

"If they weren't late on my fastball, maybe," Lidge said. "But they make an adjustment. They start laying off sliders in the dirt, let's come back with a fastball and see if they're on that, too. If they're on that, then maybe I'm tipping my pitches. But they weren't."

Extra bases

The Phillies released righthander Francisco Rosario and claimed righthander Scott Nestor off waivers from the Florida Marlins. . . . The 45,929 fans at Citizens Bank Park today made up the second-largest crowd in the ball park's history. There were 45,991 fans in Game 2 of the division series last season.
Staff writer Jim Salisbury contributed to this report.

Contact staff writer Todd Zolecki at 215-854-4874 or tzolecki@phillynews.com. Read his blog at http://go.philly.com/phillieszone.

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