The Phillies beat the Rockies again today in a close, and at times dramatic, 4-3 game. It was the Phillies annual Christmas in July promotion, but instead of snow, the Phils saw on-field temperatures over 100 degrees for 6 innings followed by an hour and 39 minute rain delay. Although the ball girls did not let the weather ruin their day:
In the stands, everyone was sweltering. When the rain finally started in the 5th inning, many kicked back and enjoyed the refreshing rain. Others heard thunder and ran screaming. Needless to say, I am still wringing water out of my hair, but was happy to escape the oppressive heat.
It was also a very good ball game. JA Happ came back to the bigs for the first time since mid-April when an injury sent him to the DL. He looked sharp through 2 innings, but then he started to lose the strike zone and began relying too much on the fast ball. The Rockies started to figure him out, but he did go 5 innings with 3 runs scored; for his first start back, this is not too bad. Once he knocks the rust off, Happ should be just fine.
The defense played well behind Happ and the bullpen, which was a big help. Ryan Howard absolutely sold out on two different plays where he dove and slid into the ground. He missed the foul ball, but it was not for lack of effort. When he got up, he was covered in mud. Shane Victorino also made a great running catch in center to get Happ out of the 3rd inning.
Ben Francisco got a start in left field today and took full advantage; he smacked a 2-run homer in the 2nd inning and went 2 for 3 with a walk on the day. Both Jayson Werth and Jimmy Rollins also had 2 hits. In the 5th inning though, the Phils had runners on first and third and failed to score. Victorino popped up; Placido Polanco hit a liner but it was right to the 3rd baseman. Then Howard flied out.
So this was not an easy game, but thanks in part to a double by Wilson Valdez and then a single from Rollins and a wild pitch, the Phils took the lead in the 7th after the delay. Brad Lidge got the save, but it was not without incident. Lidge loaded the bases with 2 outs, making everyone nervous, and finally struck out Ian Stewart to get out of it. Whew!
By the way, the graphics used on the big screen for Christmas in July were priceless. You do have to feel sorry for Francisco and Cody Ransom though; take a look:
If the Phillies can pull out a win tomorrow (1:05pm), they will have 5 wins in a row and a sweep of the Rockies. I am going to the game again and hope to get some more photos. I am sitting a bit higher than usual tomorrow, but it is in one of the company suites, so I will not complain ;o)
Also, be sure to check out the podcast I did today as a guest of Rich Baxter and his Fightin’ Phillies podcast. We chatted with another blogger about the Trade Deadline and our predictions of things to come. Thanks to Rich for the invitation!
And of course, here is the full Photo Album from today’s game.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography