With a 3-2 victory over the Braves last night to win the series 2 game to 1, the Phillies will have an 8-game lead in the NL East over both the Braves and the Marlins going into September. Joe Blanton pitched another beautiful game and got through 7 innings of one run ball; the only run came off a solo homer from Martin Prado in the first inning. Blanton looked a bit shaky through those first few innings, but settled in well and only gave up 3 hits.
And for the 2nd night in a row, Chase Utley went yard; his solo shot to right field in the 4th was the only run for the Phillies until Carlos Ruiz stepped up in the 7th. In honor of the Ruiz backpack night, a giveaway for kids 14 and under, Ruiz smacked a double to left to score Raul Ibanez and Pedro Feliz. Ruiz went 3 for 3 on the night; it was his 5th 3-hit game of the year. Maybe the Phillies should give away a Ruiz bobble head next?
In the not-so-great offensive category, the Phillies are still struggling with runners in scoring position. They left 14 men on base and again, had the bases loaded with no outs and failed to score. Blanton hit a line-drive to first base and Ruiz was double off after the catch. Jimmy Rollins then hit a weak grounder to end the inning. The offensive outage is concerning, but thanks to great pitching, they came out on top.
Defense was a big part of the win as well. Ryan Madson, who is entering Brad Lidge-bad territory, got into a huge jam in the 8th inning again. He hit the first batter he faced and then gave up back-to-back singles which scored a run for the Braves. Without recording an out, he was removed from the game and Scott Eyre took over.
Brain McCann then hit a sharp grounder to Utley, who fielded it perfectly and flipped to Rollins who threw to Feliz at third; Feliz tagged Chipper Jones for the unusual 4-6-5 double play. Having eliminated the lead runner, Eyre saved the Phillies from disaster and gave Lidge a 3-2 lead to work with. Amazingly, Lidge nailed down the save with relative ease; it was his second save in a row. Whew!
By the way, did anyone see the actor, Paul Rudd (movies: “I Love You, Man”; “Anchorman”; “Knocked Up”), sitting in the 10th row behind home plate last night? He was just a few sections over from me so I took a few photos. The woman next to him (right side, dark brown hair) is none other than Jen Utley, Chase’s wife.
A very welcome off-day is upon us as the Phillies offense needs to rest and charge up for the September charge. Watch for September call-up’s which may include pitchers Kyle Kendrick, Jack Taschner and Rodrigo Lopez; infielders Mike Cervenak and Andy Tracy; outfielders John Mayberry Jr. and Jason Ellison; and we will likely see a catcher added – maybe Paul Hoover. Those are my guesses anyway.
A lot of moves will be made as the Phillies are also anticipating the return of Brett Myers, JC Romero and Clay Condrey to the bullpen plus Greg Dobbs. All four have been on the DL and are very close to coming back.
And finally, here is the complete Photo Album from last night’s Phillies – Braves game. Tomorrow, the San Francisco Giants come to town for 3 games and some serious pitching battles will ensue. You may remember the Phillies were stomped in San Fran back in July, losing 3 out of 4 games. The Giants are tied for a wildcard spot right now so this will be a very tough match match-up. Cole Hamels starts it off tomorrow at 7:05pm.
Photos by Jenn