After Hurricane Irene wiped out the last two games scheduled between the Phillies and Marlins in late August, both were rescheduled as a day/night doubleheader on Thursday, which otherwise would have been the final off-day of the regular season for the Phillies. Fittingly, it was windy and rainy throughout the day, but baseball finally prevailed over weather.
The Phillies came away with a 3-1 win in the first game of Thursday’s doubleheader. Kyle Kendrick started the game, but was only allowed to go five innings since he had not pitched in a while. The precautionary move was understandable, but Kendrick pitched very well so it was a shame to see him pulled early.
Kendrick allowed only two hits, one of which was a home run. He also struck out six batters and did not issue any walks. Kendrick’s early departure opened the door to the Phillies bullpen.
First up was Michael Stutes who pitched two scoreless innings, although he did have several base runners. Stutes was not terribly sharp, but he got the job done. Actually, no one looked great coming out of the pen in this one including Antonio Bastardo, Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson. But although the innings pitched were a little sloppy, they did not allow any runs.
Bastardo, however, is becoming a serious concern. The once unhittable 8th/9th inning lefty has looked very human in this past month. So noticeable are his struggles that manager Charlie Manuel did not hesitate to pull him after Bastardo allowed a double and a walk. If Bastardo cannot get it together soon, using the bullpen in the postseason is going to be a real adventure.
As for the offense in this game, there was not much of it. Placido Polanco and Raul Ibanez each had 2 hits and 1 RBI. Ibanez hit his 30th double of the season which means he has now had at least 30 doubles each year for 10 straight seasons.
But the rest of the offense basically took the day off. There were hits scattered here and there, but all those runners were stranded on base. They even loaded the bases in the 8th with 1 out and failed to score. Ryan Howard’s slump continued as well; he is 0 for his last 16 at-bats.
Defensively, Pete Orr had quite a game at second base. He made multiple diving grabs and ice-cream coned a short fly ball after jumping about four feet off the ground to get to it. He probably saved the Phillies a lot of trouble.
So despite the lack of fire power and slightly sloppy pen performance, the Phillies recorded the win.
The offensive struggles from the first game of the doubleheader carried right on over to the second game. The Marlins started Alex Sanabia, a young pitcher who spent the whole year in the minors. So things looked good on the surface for the Phillies.
But the winds grew stronger as the sun went down. Fly balls that were hit hard wound up cycloning backwards away from the outfield wall, putting fly balls in play that may have been doubles or homers in calmer conditions.
Chase Utley made his first start since getting hit in the head with a pitch last week. He had a pinch-hit single in the day game, and barely scratched out a hit in the night game against the Marlins bullpen. The only two players who seemed to have Sanabia figured out were John Mayberry Jr. and Ross Gload, who both had multi-hit games.
The Phillies had not scored yet when Mayberry finally cut through the strong winds with a line-drive solo homer in the 6th. That would end up being a very important run for the Phillies.
With Cliff Lee pitching, the Phillies had a good chance that the one run would hold up. Lee kept the Fish at bay, despite allowing a bunch of base runners. He was amazing, as usual, and even had one of the few Phillies hits in the game.
But just when it looked like this game was in the books, Lee got to two outs in the 9th and, for the second time this year, gave up the tying run. The solo homer took all the air out of the balloon as the crowd sighed in disbelief at the 1-1 tie.
After the game, Lee said, “I can’t think of a worse scenario.” He hit the nail on the head. But lucky for Lee, Ryan Howard emerged from his slump and hit the baseball on the head. After Michael Martinez walked in the 10th, Howard doubled to score him for the walk-off, extra-innings win.
FYI – Michael Schwimer had pitched the top of the 10th and this turned out to be his first major league win.
Division Magic # – 2 games
Home Field Advantage Magic # – 3 games
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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography