The start of tonight’s Phillies – Reds match-up was anything but funny. The game began with a fielding error by Jimmy Rollins on the very first batter Joe Blanton faced.
Blanton went on to allow a single and then Jonny Gomes smacked a 3-run homer. While ahead in the count, Blanton threw Gomes a fast ball right down the middle of the plate. Was it Gomes’ birthday or something? Because I just cannot see any reason for the generous gift from Blanton.
The very next batter was the recipient of yet another Phillies error, as Ryan Howard over-threw Blanton who was running to cover first base. The bottom half of the 1st inning was no better. Rollins hit a single, which was great, but then he got picked off at first while leaning off base too far. Rollins may have been able to score on the Raul Ibanez double that followed, but he was no longer on base. Inning over; no score for the Phils.
The insanity did not end there. Greg Dobbs missed a ball at third that he should have caught and that would have ended the 2nd inning. Instead, another run scored. Then Howard got tagged out trying to stretch a single into a double in the 4th inning. The Phils did score one run that inning on a sac fly by Jayson Werth, but in the 5th, the Phils gave the Reds two more runs.
Blanton was pulled after 5 ½ innings after allowing 12 hits, 6 runs (5 earned), 2 walks and 2 hits to the opposing pitcher. Blanton has been struggling all year, but this was perhaps the most disturbing outing so far. Usually, he has several good innings and starts to give up runs in the 5th or 6th when he tires. But today, he was bad almost the entire time. Add in the hits allowed to the pitcher and giving up big hits while he was ahead in the count and it was definitely not a comedy; tragedy is more like it.
Although, with how things have gone so far this season, it is plausible to think that many fans may still not be sure whether to laugh or cry about it. While little is funny here, the bad play does conjure images of fans wrapped with tiny white coats in a padded room while cackling hysterically as their sanity slowly drips away. Are they coming to take me away yet? Now that actually would be funny ;o)
To make matters worse, the Phillies looked like they had given up by the time they were down 6 runs to 1. They did not hit at all and in the 9th, JC Romero gave up another run. He also gave up another hit to Mike Leake, the Reds pitcher. It was Leake’s 3rd hit of the night! So, not only did he totally mow over the Phils with his pitching, but he hurt them with the bat as well.
And then something very weird happened. The Phillies offense suddenly woke up. But in the bottom of the ninth, down 7-1, would it be too little too late? Shane Victorino doubled and Howard singled to drive him in.
Werth singled next and then Greg Dobbs performed a miracle; he hit a 3-run homer! With one out and the score now 7-5, Leake was finally pulled out of the game and it became a save situation for the Reds.
Francisco Cordero came in to pitch and Brian Schneider hit a ball well, but it was right to the center fielder. Ben Francisco drew a pinch hit walk and then with two outs, down two runs, Cody Ransom stepped to the plate with a chance to be the hero. And just like that, BAM, a HOME RUN to tie the game! Are you kidding me?? The Reds could not believe what was happening; the Phils fans were going nuts in the stands; and the poor Reds pitcher, Mike Leake, looked like he might cry while watching from the dugout.
And he had reason to cry…because in the 10th inning, Ryan Howard smashed a walk-off 2-run homer to win the game! Unbelievable. Down 7-1 in the 9th, the Phillies come back to win by a score of 9-7. It was the second extra innings game in a row with a walk-off homer two nights in a row. Comedy or tragedy? Keep laughing, Phils fans…that was an INSANE win! Whoo Hooo!
Dobbs photo by Jenn Zambri Photography