In their 1st visit back to Philadelphia since losing the 2008 World Series, the Tampa Bay Rays once again brought the rain with them. Friday night’s Phillies – Rays game was rained out and will be played as part of a doubleheader on Sunday. The originally scheduled 1:35pm game will start instead at 1:05pm and the make-up game will begin at 6:35pm.
For today’s game, Kyle Kendrick started as originally planned, with Cliff Lee being pushed back to Sunday. After Lee had fully warmed up Friday night, they did not want to take any chances by having him go today.
Kendrick did not have a great day, getting speeches while on the mound from teammates Carlos Ruiz, Jimmy Rollins and then pitching coach Rich Dubee. It seemed like a lot of work just to get Kendrick through what turned out to be only 4 innings. He walked 3 and allowed 3 runs.
But the offense gave the pitching a boost with big home runs from Rollins and Juan Pierre. For Pierre, it was his first homer since August of last year and his first 3-run homer since 2004. Pierre is not typically a long-ball hitter and as a result, there were huge smiles all around the Phillies bench when he hit that one. Pierre got to play Superman, if only for just one day.
For the bullpen, Raul Valdes did a commendable job picking up the slack for Kendrick. Fresh back from the minors, Valdes pitched 2 very solid innings. Antonio Bastardo had a little trouble in the 8th where he loaded the bases but did pitch out of it after allowing only one run.
The 6-4 lead carried the Phillies into the 9th with a save opportunity for Jonathan Papelbon. It was not exactly smooth sailing. In fact, he blew his first save of season, giving up 2 runs and really putting the Phillies in a very bad position with a doubleheader scheduled the next day. This could not have been worse timing, except…
In the bottom of the 9th, a future Hall of Famer was lying in wait to bail Papelbon out. Jim Thome stepped to the plate in the bottom of the 9th and absolutely crushed a ball to deep left field. And just like that, BOOM! The Phillies won it in walk-off style.
It was Thome’s 13th career walk-off homer, which is a major league record. He is also the all-time leader in Interleague play home runs. And Thome is now tied with Sammy Sosa for 7th place in career homers with 609.
On Sunday, Cole Hamels will pitch the first game and Lee will pitch the second one. I will be at both games and shall return with photos.
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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography