The Phillies Monday night 5-1 win over the Astros was full of hopeful signs. A little at a time, things are getting better for this team, which is currently still in last place in the NL East.
Starting pitcher Joe Blanton had another great outing, making us all wonder where this guy has been all these years. He has transformed from Average Joe to “I have an ERA under 3.00” Joe. Over 7 innings, Blanton allowed only 1 run on 6 hits and a walk.
Things got shaky in the top of the 8th when he allowed that one run via a solo homer and then gave up a single. Manager Charlie Manuel, not wanting to ruin and otherwise great start, pulled Blanton and let the pen take over. Blanton was visibly surprised at the move, but ultimately, it was for the best.
In the meantime, the Phillies offense showed signs of life. Carlos Ruiz and John Mayberry Jr. remain hot at the plate, each collecting 2 hits on the night. Rookie Freddy Galvis is finally catching on and had 3 hits plus 2 RBI.
But the best moment of the night came in the bottom of the 8th when Placido Polanco added his 2000th career hit in grand fashion. The 2-run homer was probably the best situation he could have imagined for this milestone. Congrats to Polly on this historic accomplishment!
And perhaps the back end of the Phillies bullpen is also getting into the swing of things. Antonio Bastardo, Chad Qualls and Jonathan Papelbon combined to close out the 8th and 9th innings and secure the win. Bastardo even provided his team with some comic relief as he hopped off the mound with enthusiasm thinking the inning was over when there were actually only 2 outs. Bastardo grinned as his teammates poked fun at him while he sauntered back to the mound.
It is nice to see this team finally having some fun out there. Winning certainly helps, but if they can keep their spirits up as well, that may go a long way towards digging their season out of the basement.
Game 2 with the Astros starts early today at 1:05pm.
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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography