Myers baffling hitters, surprising himself
Righty allows just two runs vs. Cubs, has 1.78 ERA since callup
CHICAGO -- Brett Myers doesn't know what's gotten into him in the past month. It looks like opposing hitters don't have a clue, either.
The right-hander continued his recent dominance in Saturday's win against the Cubs at Wrigley Field, the venue of his Major League debut in 2002. Myers, who has been sensational since being recalled from the Minors a month ago, tossed seven-plus innings of two-run ball. He gave up 11 hits (all singles), walked none and struck out eight.
"I felt like maybe three or four [balls] were hit hard," Myers said. "I was like, 'Can they please just hit one ball -- I don't care how hard they hit it -- just right at somebody? That would be nice.' They were finding all the holes today. Then I had to bear down and try to keep them from scoring. Luckily enough, I was able to do that."
He gave up eight hits in the first four innings, but managed to escape by giving up just one run. As shadows began to cover the field, Myers (8-10) retired 11 straight through the seventh.
"He did a tremendous job pitching, and he stayed after it," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "He gave up 11 hits, but he scattered his hits. He didn't walk anybody. I think that was a key, too."
Free passes plagued Myers before the July 1 demotion, but he has returned a different pitcher.
Myers is 5-1 with a 1.78 ERA since the All-Star break. Only two others, both acquired in July trades, boast better ERAs during the second half. The Brewers' CC Sabathia (6-0, 1.41) and the Cubs' Rich Harden (4-1, 1.66) have received widespread attention for helping their teams in the playoff push.
Yet you can vouch the same for Myers, who was recalled from his Minor League awakening on July 21. The resurgent right-hander is one of, if not the main reason why the Phils are hanging with the Mets in the National League East race.
"He was struggling at the start of the season, and at that time, we had a couple weaknesses in our rotation," Manuel said. "He went down to the Minor Leagues, came back, and he's definitely stabilized that. He's pitched like everybody thought he could."
Mechanically, it appears that a greater command of his fastball and an effective breaking ball are the reasons for the change. Myers, however, can't explain it.
"I don't know," he said, "and that's the way I want to keep it."
Nick Zaccardi is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.