Happy Opening Day! And what an unusual Opening Day it was for the Phillies.
The Phillies sent Roy Halladay to the mound to face ex-Phillie Brett Myers of the Astros. What initially looked like it might be a bad day despite great pitching, the Phillies pulled out a win in walk-off fashion to open the 2011 season.
The first hit off Halladay came off the bat of Myers. And from there, more drama ensued. In fact, Myers wound up with two of the five hits Halladay allowed through six innings. Myers allowed only three hits and one earned run through seven innings.
But for the Phillies offense, hits were few and far between making fans wonder if all the hard work assembling this amazing pitching staff was going to pay off. If Halladay only allows one run but the offense cannot score any runs, wins will be hard to come by.
Only Ryan Howard and Wilson Valdez got any hits through the first six innings. The Valdez hit was a double in the third inning, but they were unable to score him. A bad call at first base where Halladay was called out did not help the situation.
Also not a huge help were a strange variety of Phillies mistakes. Ben Francisco missed a fly ball in right early in the game, prompting chants of, “Bring back Werth!” from the crowd. Valdez let a ball slip right between his legs and Shane Victorino got caught stealing. Later, poor Carlos Ruiz took a bouncing relay to the plate in what looks like an uncomfortable position:
None of this was good news for the Phillies. But in the seventh, Myers started to tire and the Phils finally manufactured a few runs. By the ninth inning, down 4-2, the Phillies probably started to imagine the backlash if they were to lose on Opening Day after Halladay pitched a great game. Suddenly, the hits started coming.
Jimmy Rollins started off the inning with a single to inspire the team. Howard, Francisco and Ruiz followed suit. The hit for Francisco was especially huge as it redeemed him from the previous error in the eyes of the crowd.
Valdez stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and one out. Visions of the 20 double plays Valdez hit into last year began to haunt the crowd who held their collective breath. But perhaps the DP curse is over, because Valdez nailed and RBI single to tie the game.
All the Phillies needed now was a hit or a sac fly from John Mayberry Jr. With his father, former major leaguer John Mayberry Sr., and mother looking on, Mayberry Jr. smashed a 2-2 fastball to center field, over the head of former Phillie Michael Bourn. Francisco scored and Mayberry had his first major league walk-off hit in his first game ever as an Opening Day roster player.
The walk-off win was the first on Opening Day since May 6, 1974, when Mike Schmidt hit a two-run home run against Tug McGraw to beat the Mets at Veterans Stadium. But with the high expectations for this 2011 team, this walk-off victory will go down as one of the most memorable in Phillies history.
The stunned Astros team will probably have nightmare’s tonight knowing they face Cliff Lee on Saturday. Game time is 7:05pm.
Here is the full Photo Album from Opening Day.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography