Scoreboard watching is officially in high gear in Philadelphia. With a magic number of 4 to start the night, fans were intently watching both the Phillies game and the scoreboard report on the Braves – Nationals match-up as well. The 4-1 Nationals lead was of great interest as the Phillies led tonight over the Mets 3-2 going into the 8th.
The Phillies starting pitcher, Joe Blanton, did a great job keeping the game close. He struggled with 2 outs, allowing a single and a homer in the 4th plus two doubles with 2 outs in later innings. But Blanton made it through 7 innings with just the 2 runs allowed on 6 hits and a walk.
The defense played well behind Blanton, keeping extra runs off the board. Raul Ibanez made a sliding grab in left that save a 2-out run from scoring. Even Blanton got in on the act. In the 7th, he dove for a short roller towards first and flipped the ball with his glove to Ryan Howard for the out. Face down in the dirt, Blanton looked like he had just done a belly flop into a pool.
He even needed a towel afterwards to clean up, as his teammates broke up in laughter over the play. While Blanton will not get any style points for the dive, it got the job done.
Shane Victorino led the game off with a solo homer against knuckleballer RA Dickey. Victorino had an RBI-double as well in the 2nd inning. The go ahead run was scored by Ibanez in the 4th, who was singled in by Carlos Ruiz. Placido Polanco had a good night as well, with 2 hits. However, the offense as a whole was fairly quiet, as they have been in the past against Dickey and other knuckleballers. The 3 runs they scratched out would have to be enough.
Things got pretty tense in the 9th inning as Brad Lidge tried to save the game with that slim 1-run lead. Lidge has been amazing this month, so expectations were high. With two outs and a runner on third, Lidge pitched around and walked rookie catcher Josh Thole. What happened next is hard to imagine…
Lidge went into his windup and the third base umpire, Hunter Wendelstedt, suddenly called time out for the Mets to put in a pinch runner. With the pitch already delivered, the batter grounded out and the game should have been over. Instead, after much arguing, it was a do over.
Charlie Manuel was nearly tossed from the game sticking up for his team, and who could blame him. It was another ridiculous, unprofessional act by yet another major league umpire. You cannot call time out when the pitcher is already in his windup! Unbelievable. But even this moron could not stop the Phillies. Lidge struck the batter out and collected the save.
The Braves are down 6-1 in DC in the top of the 7th as I write this. If they go on to lose, the magic number will be down to TWO! That means the Phillies could clinch the division either Saturday or Sunday. I am SO ready for October!!
UPDATE: The Braves lost; the Phillies Magic Number is now TWO!!!
Blanton photo by Jenn Zambri Photography