Chase Utley got angry tonight and the Minnesota Twins paid the price. After all the talk about Utley being injured after a comment made in an interview by first base coach, Davey Lopes, Utley came out tonight to prove everyone wrong. He swears he is not injured and based on his play tonight, who could argue? Trust me Twins, you won’t like him when he’s angry.
Utley nailed an RBI single in the first inning and smashed a 3-run homer in the second. He was a monster in the field as well. Utley dove for a hard hit ground ball in the 3rd inning that would have been out of the reach of any normal human. He snagged the ball while on the ground, got up and made the throw to first to end the inning.
Then in the 5th inning, Jason Kubel hit what looked like an inside-the-park home run. Utley took the relay throw from Shane Victorino and threw Kubel out at the plate with a little help from catcher Carlos Ruiz. Utley made a statement tonight. Do not make him angry. Or perhaps Lopes’ slip of the tongue was a huge favor; it lit a fire under Utley. Clue for the Phils: Next time Utley is slumping, piss him off.
Ryan Howard must have taken the rumor about Utley to heart as well; he went 4 for 5 with TWO home runs, a triple and 3 RBI. He and Utley went back-to-back with those homers. But they were not alone in their offensive outburst. The Phillies put 9 runs on the board all together with additional hits from Placido Polanco, Jayson Werth and others.
Joe Blanton bounced back after some very bad outings previous to tonight. He did well through 6 innings, allowing just one run. But the same mistake that has been made with Blanton all year long was made again; he was left in too long. In the top of the 7th, he gave up a single and then a 2-run homer before he was replaced by Chad Durbin. The shame of it is, Blanton could have left the game with only 1 run allowed, but the Phils continue to push him even when he looks tired. The Phils had a huge lead, but the confidence boost Blanton should have left with may have been erased.
Overall, the game tonight was very intense, but not all of it was a good thing. Both Werth and Victorino appeared to tweak a muscle running hard to first base. They each stayed in the game, so that is a good sign. Then in the 8th inning, Kubel shattered his bat which nailed Ruiz in the head and he lay motionless on the ground for a good amount of time. Ruiz was taken out of the game and did walk off on his own so, hopefully, he will be okay.
The other excitement in tonight’s game was seeing Scott Mathieson pitch in the majors for the first time since 2006. Two Tommy John surgeries later, and Mathieson was pumped up to make it back to the bigs. A little too pumped up, because he gave up hit after hit in the 9th inning until the bases were loaded with one out. After a wild pitch and two more runs scoring, Brad Lidge was brought in to finish the game which he did without issue. Phils win, 9-5.
While Mathieson hit 99mph on the radar gun, the control was not there. Lidge probably breathed a sigh of relief as his closing job is safe for now. But this may have been a case of nerves and we will probably see Mathieson again soon.
Cole Hamels will pitch tomorrow; game time is 4:10pm.