The Phillies newest, shiny toy arrived at the ballpark today. Right fielder Hunter Pence pumped his fists as he entered the tunnel under the stadium, looking excited to explore his new home.
The excitement is understandable; Pence just got traded from a team with 35 wins to a team with 66 wins and the best record in baseball. The fans shared his exuberance as they cheered him during batting practice and gave Pence a standing ovation when he arrived in right field to start the game against the Pirates. Pence waived to the fans cheerfully in appreciation.
Even his first at-bat was exciting; Pence ran out what should have been an infield hit but was called out by the umpire. The replay showed he was clearly safe as fans watched manager Charlie Manuel argue with the ump in defense of his newest player.
It took Pence until the eighth inning to finally get a hit in the game. Regardless, he had to be relieved with the RBI-single he finally put in the books. Now that his first Phillies hit is on record, it should be business as usual for Pence.
As for Ryan Howard, the business was not so usual, but certainly good. Having Pence in the five-hole behind him had to be a welcome sight. Hitting without any real protection all year, Howard finally has a solid hitter to back him up. Taking full advantage, Howard went just a triple short of the cycle and had three RBI on four hits.
Most notably, Howard’s second hit of the game, an RBI-single in the fourth inning, was his 1,000th career hit. Congratulations to Ryan!
As for the pitching, Cliff Lee started the game hoping he could bounce back from an awful outing on Monday against the Padres. In that game, Lee lasted only four innings after allowing five runs.
Tonight, Lee did well through seven innings where he gave up only two runs. But Lee was left in the game too long and he ran into trouble in the eighth. The hits kept coming for the Pirates and two more runs crossed the plate, bringing the Bucos closer to a comeback with a 6-4 score.
Reliever Antonio Bastardo was brought in with two runners on base and two outs. In his usual form, Bastardo shut down the Pirates by striking out Pedro Alvarez to end the inning.
The run added by Pence in the eighth gave the Phillies a little more cushion with a 7-4 lead. That was plenty for Ryan Madson who closed out the game for another Phillies victory.
Game three with the Pirates is Sunday at 1:35pm; Vance Worley will pitch. In Worley’s last start, he pitched a complete game against the Giants. It will be interesting to see how he responds after tossing 114 pitches in that start.
Check back Sunday night for game photos…see you there!
Roster Move Update:
Domonic Brown and Andrew Carpenter were sent to Triple-A to make room for Pence and Placido Polanco, who came off the DL today. Brown will begin to work at left field, which is where the Phillies project he will be next season.
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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography