Phils get early lesson from Braves about perils of defending title
Only moments after Phillies manager
The planned all-night celebration here lasted only a few minutes past the first pitch, as it turns out. Good cheer can be ephemeral here, where
The ring ceremony is scheduled for Wednesday, so more good memories are promised. This was generally not a night for nostalgia, though.
The Braves, who need to write a new chapter themselves after their uncharacteristically brutal 2008 season, ruined the party planners' efforts on Opening Night with a power display that would have flown in any ballpark, not just perhaps baseball's most hitter-friendly yard. Atlanta's diminutive cleanup man
"There was a lot of excitement, a lot of anticipation ... but they jumped on us early,'' the Phillies'
"I don't think fans understand how hard it is when you've won a World Series. I imagine every one of their guys got knocked out of their routine. There were a lot of distractions,'' Lowe said.
Within the first half-hour, there would be two more Braves home runs, one from a powerful, young lefthanded hitter
Schafer's long blast came in his very first big-league at-bat, stunning the crowd in the Braves' 4-1 victory
The Braves got two big blows from surprising sources but it was their old star
The rousing speech didn't hurt. But some winter moves helped more.
The best important of the Braves' acquisitions was undoubtedly the $60-million signing of new ace Lowe, a vital pickup to anchor a vast rotation makeover. Lowe's Dodgers were dispatched by the Phillies in last October's playoff derby, and Lowe had a wholly unsatisfying final game as a Dodger, being removed with a lead the Dodgers eventually lost. Critics may question whether Lowe's a true ace; but if he isn't, he certainly played the role nicely in his debut for the organization that used to employ almost nothing but aces in its rotation.
On a beautiful night -- a far cry from the frigid finale here last October -- Lowe baffled the Phillies' star-studded lineup, which grew more impatient against the sinkerball specialist. Patience was at a premium by the seventh inning, when Lowe needed only six pitches to retire the heart of the Phillies' order, which consists of
Lowe, who was 0-3 with an 8.44 Era in his three previous Opening day starts, had a different explanation. "I told myself just to enjoy it and don't try so hard this time,'' he said. "Just enjoy it because it may never happen again.''
Lowe, basically unhittable, got even better at the end, finhsing the seventh and eighth innings in 14 total pitches. But Braves manager
The crowd finally showed late life in the ninth. But all in all, this was no way for the Phillies to begin a defense of their title.