After a dreadful Sunday during which the Phillies lost two games to the Rays in spectacularly bad fashion, this team needed a break. And that break came in the form of the Pittsburgh Pirates. How do you spell relief? P-I-R-A-T-E-S!
The 8-3 win was a welcome sight, even if it did come at the expense of what appeared to be a little league team. Thankfully though, the Bucos took the pounding like men and no tears were shed.
The first inning set the tone as the Pirates fielders tossed the baseball all over the place, as if they were blindfolded at a child’s birthday party while trying to whack a piñata. The ball bounced all around, smacking dirt, bases and the infield walls. Still, no candy prizes fell from the sky. Instead, the Pirates were given 3 errors in the inning, which lead to a 4-0 lead for the Phillies.
The party continued for the Phillies offense, which exploded for 4 more runs. Jimmy Rollins nailed a home run to right that nearly made it to the second deck of seats. Carlos Ruiz continued his All-Star campaign, going 3-for-5 and 3 other Phils had a multi-hit night. This was apparently the precursor to the post-game fireworks that were planned.
On the downside, the Phillies are still struggling with runners in scoring position. They loaded the bases with no outs in the 7th and only managed one run, which resulted from a walk to Ty Wigginton. The next 3 batters all struck out.
Starting the game, Joe Blanton pitched pretty well. He went 7 innings, allowing 3 runs, 2 of which were earned. But still, in the 8th inning, after the offense failed to add on in the 7th, you could feel the doubt in the air as the bullpen took over. Could a 5 run lead really not be sufficient here?
It was enough on this day. But in the past, that has very often not been the case for this team. And this fact still leaves Phillies fans anxious about what might happen in a similar situation the next time.
The Pirates are a bad team that the Phillies should really beat up on over the next 3 games. If they can manage to do that, there may be hope for this team yet.
Speaking of hope, it looks like Chase Utley should be back with the team on Wednesday. He is playing for Triple-A Lehigh Valley tonight. I will temper my enthusiasm until I see it for myself…
In the meantime, game 2 with the Pirates begins tonight at 7:05pm.
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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography