The crowd went wild as Chase Utley stepped to the plate for his 2011 debut tonight against the Reds. After missing the start of the season with knee issues, the Phillies have anxiously awaited the return of their leader. It was so thrilling to see Utley back in the line-up, fans everywhere felt like skipping joyously through a field of wildflowers.
The overwhelming exhilaration poured onto the field and bled over into the Phillies recently dreadful offense. Runs began to pour out like rain drops. The Phils scored ten runs tonight, which equaled the run total of their last seven games combined.
Oddly enough, the only starter in the line-up, including the pitcher, to not have a hit was Utley. He went 0-5. But just his presence alone was motivation for this struggling offense.
Domonic Brown got his first hit since being called up. Carlos Ruiz racked up three hits. Both Raul Ibanez and Placido Polanco had two hits and two RBI each. And Jimmy Rollins put a charge into his bat with two hits, including a three-run homer.
Cole Hamels started the game and did well until he allowed a three-run homer in the fourth to Jay Bruce. Hamels went six innings, allowing five hits. Because of the huge Phillies lead, he was able to come out of the game early and take a little break.
Phillies fans had a blast tonight, cheering for Chase and finally seeing some offense. As an added bonus, they were able to boo Scott Rolen, which was the icing on the cake. The Phillies won by a score of 10-3.
The question now is can this offense take the huge momentum that Utley provided and carry it over from game to game? I will be at the ballpark Tuesday night to find out and I shall return with photos.
Game time is 7:05pm; Vance Worley gets the start.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography