The Phillies started tonight’s game with the hope of winning and avoiding a 3-game sweep at the hands of the Giants. More than once, it looked like the Phils were going down in flames. And more than once, it looked like they might pull it out. It is hard to believe how it all went down:
The game stayed very close until the 6th inning when pitcher Cole Hamels fell apart. Having pitched very well through 5 innings, striking out 10 batters and allowing just 1 run, seeing him self-destruct in the 6th was hugely disappointing.
Hamels had the bases loaded and 2 outs and walked a run home. Any good pitcher in this situation, 2-outs, bases loaded and a full count, has to be able to throw a strike. The walk gave the Giants 2-1 lead and all the momentum. The next batter whacked a single to right, which scored 2 more runs and nearly sentenced the Phillies to a 3-game sweep.
Because the Phillies offense has been completely non-existent recently, you had to figure there was no way they could climb out of the 1-4 hole against back-to-back Cy Young winner, Tim Lincecum. In fact, if you skipped the next 2 innings, you did not miss anything. Well, except maybe some additional humiliation imparted upon the Phils by Lincecum.
Ryan Howard hit him hard twice, once for a homer and once for a double. The only other hit for the Phillies off Lincecum was a blooper into right from Placido Polanco. Do not even worry about men left on base for this one through 8 innings; they didn’t have anyone on base to leave there.
But after Lincecum walked a batter with 1 out in the 9th, the Giants put in their closer, Brian Wilson.
This move helped out Chase Utley as he knocked a single for the 1,000 hit of his career. Congrats to Chase!
But Utley was not the only one to benefit from this bonehead move. The Phillies loaded the bases with 2 outs and Wilson on the mound. Jayson Werth stepped to the plate and smashed a 3-run double to right to tie the game up at 4-4! Giants fans got real quiet, real fast.
But hey, no worries for the Giants, right? Because the Phillies went ahead and countered that bonehead move with one of their own. That’s right, we’ll see your Brian Wilson and raise you Ryan Madson. In save situations, Madson has not been good…at all. Despite that fact, Madson pitched the 10th inning after the Phillies had finally taken the lead by a score of 5-4 on a wild pitch. And what does Madson do? Well, I figure maybe he felt bad for Wilson blowing the save for the Giants so he went ahead and blew the save for the Phillies. Nice of him to share the humiliation.
So it was on to the 11th inning with a 5-5 tie. Raul Ibanez started the inning off with a single and moved up to 2nd on a sac bunt. Our back-up, back-up short stop, Wilson Valdez, doubled to score him on a ball that bounced off the outfield wall just over the head of left fielder Eugenio Velez. And the adventure for Velez did not end there. Shane Victorino hit a routine fly ball to him, but Velez one-handed the catch and the ball bounced off his glove, allowing an insurance run to score for the Phils. Can you say “embarrassing?” Ouch.
Now the Phillies have a 7-5 lead and send sometimes bullpen guy, sometimes starter, Nelson Figueroa to the mound. He can now add sometimes closer to his resume…although the save did not come easy. Juan Uribe wound up with a single on a hit ball that ricocheted off Figueroa’s leg, allowing a runner to advance to 3rd. That runner then scored when the next batter doubled. The lead was down to one run with 1 out in the inning and runners on 2nd and 3rd.
Velez, still not done with his extra innings adventure, hit into a fielder’s choice which Ryan Howard fielded and threw home to get Uribe out at the plate. Catcher Brian Schneider did an amazing job blocking the plate with his glove and Uribe basically tagged himself out. The next batter grounded out to end the game and Figueroa picks up the first save of his career. Unbelievable.
This win gave the Phillies 4 wins and 5 losses on this road trip; certainly not great, but it could have been worse. The Phillies have the day off tomorrow to prepare for the 3-game home series against the Mets. And now, I need a Valium…whew!
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography