In game 3 of this Phillies – Nationals series, the playoff-bound Phils looked very relaxed. Joe Blanton pitched 7 fairly easy innings allowing only 3 hits and one unearned run. Blanton probably will not get much playing time in the NLDS as the rotation is set up to include only Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels. So this was a good outing for Blanton to end the regular season with; his final record is 9-6 with a 4.74 ERA.
A barrage of home runs from the Phillies bench players helped Blanton out tonight. Taking full advantage of extra playing time, Ben Francisco smashed two home runs and went 3 for 4 at the plate with 3 RBI. John Mayberry Jr. also had a big night with a 3-run homer and a single. Mayberry made vast improvements in AAA this year and is now hitting both right and left handed pitching well.
Also joining the home run party was Mike Sweeney; he whacked a long ball to left center in the 2nd. He and Francisco went back to back that inning. And you know what a Sweeney home run means…HUGS for everyone! If you do not know what I mean, check out my “I Want A Hug From Mike Sweeney” Facebook page.
I love watching this guy play; he has brought an exuberance to this team that is rarely seen. It will be a joy to see him in the playoffs, finally, after 16 years in the majors.
Catcher Paul Hoover also got some playing time, but went 0 for 4 at the plate. Regulars like Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino and Wilson Valdez (a regular due to many injuries) all went hitless. But Greg Dobbs bounced back after a bad game yesterday and had 2 hits. The best pinch hitter in the National League in 2008, Dobbs has suffered a very bad season this year. Maybe this extra playing time will snap him out of the funk.
The Phillies went on to win the game by a score of 7-1, giving them a record of 95-64, which will either be the best record in baseball or very close to tied for the best after all the games are done tonight. The Phils are off tomorrow and will return on Friday. The remaining 3 games will be in Atlanta where the Braves are still battling for the Wild Card spot.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography