PHILADELPHIA -- From the minute Brett Myers walked into Citizens Bank Park's interview room on Thursday afternoon, it was clear that the 28-year-old Phillies starter was up to something. The amused grin that the right-hander usually wears was in full force. Myers' eyes were gleaming as he strode to the podium.
"I figured you guys would want to talk about hitting," Myers cracked, referring back to his success at the plate in the National League Division Series against Brewers ace CC Sabathia. Never mind that Myers was a mere 24 hours from the biggest start of his career -- Game 2 of the Phillies' first National League Championship Series since 1993. His joking demeanor has carried him through good times and bad in 2008, and it's going to be especially useful in the playoffs, where the stakes get raised every day. "Let him be that way," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "Because that's going to help him pitch the next day. That's fine. He's always been like that. He's always very energetic. He's always moving around." Just like he did in the NLDS, Myers will be coming in with plenty of rest and have the luxury of a 1-0 series lead when he takes the mound Friday afternoon. He showed an affinity for the postseason spotlight in Game 2 against the Brewers, holding Milwaukee to two runs on two hits over seven innings. In Friday's contest, Myers will be opposed by right-hander Chad Billingsley, a 24-year-old who led Los Angeles in wins this season with 16. The two squared off in Philadelphia on Aug. 25, and Myers held the Dodgers scoreless over seven innings and earned the victory. That night, Myers also held the dangerous Manny Ramirez in check, keeping him hitless in four at-bats.
"He's a very smart hitter," Myers said. "You have to kind of change your patterns each time. So he's a tough out." The road Myers has taken leading up Friday's start has been well chronicled. He was Philadelphia's Opening Day starter in 2008, but struggled through a 3-9 beginning. When the right-hander was sent down to the Minor Leagues in July, he had a 5.84 ERA and had surrendered a Major League-leading 24 home runs. But almost immediately upon his return to the Phillies three weeks later, a different pitcher emerged. Myers reeled off an 11-start stretch in which he went 7-2 with a 1.80 ERA. "He's 100 miles an hour," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "The kid's aggressive and he's going to give you everything he has. He just doesn't look like the thought of failure is in his mind. Body language-wise, that's what it looks like to me." Nowhere has that confidence been more apparent than Citizens Bank Park. On the road this season, Myers has been inconsistent -- his 16 starts away from home have yielded a 3-8 record and 6.21 ERA. With the Philadelphia crowd on his side, however, things have been different. Myers is 7-5 in 14 home starts with a 3.01 ERA. He thrives on the noise of 45,000-plus fans, and is expecting the crowd to do its part on Friday. "I want them to be as loud as they can possibly be," Myers said. "That's what us players thrive on -- our fans and how they respond to big plays, big pitches, big outs in key situations. It definitely makes us feel better and we push a little harder when they're behind us the way they are." When Myers' turn at the podium was finished, the grin returned to his face. He stood up, propped his bat on his right shoulder, and walked out of the room.
TALE OF THE TAPE: GAME 2 STARTERS
|2008 REGULAR SEASON|
|Overall||30 GS, 10-13, 4.55 ERA, 65 BB, 163 K||32 GS, 16-10, 3.14 ERA, 80 BB, 201 K|
|Division Series||1 GS, 1-0, 2.57||1 GS, 1-0, 1.35|
|Regular season||222 G, 173 GS, 69-60, 4.37 ERA, 21 SV||96 G, 68 GS, 35-19, 3.33 ERA|
|Postseason||3 G, 1 GS, 1-1, 2.16 ERA||3 G, 1 GS, 1-1, 1.04 ERA|
|AT CITIZENS BANK PARK|
|2008||14 GS, 7-5, 3.01 ERA||1 GS, 0-1, 4.50 ERA|
|Career||86 G, 62 GS, 27-24, 4.05 ERA, 10 SV||2 GS, 1-1, 2.77 ERA|
|AGAINST THIS OPPONENT|
|2008 regular season||2 GS, 1-1, 1.93 ERA||1 GS, 0-1, 4.50 ERA|
|Career||11 GS, 4-2, 2.61 ERA||3 GS, 1-1, 4.00 ERA|
|Loves to face||Manny Ramirez, 3-for-19||Greg Dobbs, 0-for-3|
|Hates to face||Matt Kemp, 4-for-10, 3 XBH||Pedro Feliz, 4-for-12, 2 XBH|
|Why he'll win||3.78 ERA on extra rest this year, vs. 5.61 on regular rest; pitching on seven days' rest Friday||Including NLDS start, has 2.76 ERA since All-Star break|
Kevin Horan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.