The Phillies started the postseason with 2 pitchers named Roy in the first 2 games. In each of those games, the 2 Roy’s were polar opposites in terms of performance and results. Roy Halladay pitched a no-hitter in his first ever playoff game. Roy Oswalt on the other hand, with prior playoff experience, did not pitch well at all. But all is well that ends well as the Phillies went on to win anyway.
At the start of the game, Oswalt looked pretty bad. He threw balls right down the middle of the plate and the Reds did not miss them. Oswalt surrendered 3 earned runs and 1 unearned on 5 hits and a walk. Chase Utley made 2 throwing errors in the 2nd inning, which is very odd for Utley, and that cost Oswalt the unearned run.
Between the errors, ineffective pitching and lack of hitting, things looked grim for the Phillies early on. They were not able to scratch out any runs until the bottom of the 5th when 2 Reds errors plus an Utley single scored 2 runs. Utley redeemed himself and, making him feel even better, the Reds equaled his screw-ups. Even better, one of the errors was from ex-Phillie Scott Rolen, which the fans enjoyed a lot. Rolen has been booed mercilessly these past two games. No love lost between him and Philadelphia…
Things got stranger in the 6th; Carlos Ruiz was hit in the knee with a pitch by another ex-Phillie, Arthur Rhodes. Ruiz seemed to be fine and Rhodes was lifted from the game. Pitcher Logan Ondrusek replaced Rhodes and only 3 pitches later, he nailed pinch-hitter Ben Francisco in the head to load the bases. Luckily for Francisco, he moved his head quick enough that the ball hit the brim of the helmet. So although it looked very scary, he was okay. Shane Victorino walked next to score a run.
So while all this was pretty entertaining, the Phillies were still down 4-3 going into the 7th. Utley was hit by a pitch for the 3rd erroneous toss by a Reds pitcher. Things began to go seriously downhill for the Reds when, with 1 out, they brought in their flame throwing rookie, Aroldis Chapman. With 100+ mph balls flying, it was the Reds fielders who got rattled instead of the Phillies batters…
missed a fairly easy fly ball off the bat of Jimmy Rollins and then Brandon Phillips dropped the relay throw, allowing 2 runs to score. Ruiz hit into a fielder’s choice a little later, but it scored another run. Also in this inning, Mike Sweeney made his postseason debut as a pinch hitter and singled to left. Having waited 16 years to reach the playoffs, that hit had to feel amazing for Sweeney. By the way, join us at my “I Want A Hug From Mike Sweeney” Facebook page for more Sweeney fun :O)
So the Reds had 4 errors through 7 innings in this game, which the Phillies then led by a score of 6-4. Ryan Madson erased the Reds in the top of the 8th. In the bottom half, Utley singled and stole a base, still determined to erase the errors from everyone’s minds. Jayson Werth knocked him in to add on an insurance run for a 7-4 lead.
That set up the 9th for Brad Lidge. Despite walking the first batter he faced and making the fans grumble, Lidge buckled down and got the next 3 batter out to put the Phillies up 2 games to none in the NLDS. The Phillies are one win away from advancing! Cole Hamels will pitch in Cincinnati on Sunday at 7:00pm.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Despite having two of their best players sent to the DL today in Chase Utley and Placido Polanco, the Phillies still came out swinging against the Reds. More importantly, it was the back-up players who made the biggest impact on the game. This gives Phillies fans hope that even with 7 players on the DL, they can still produce.
At the very bottom of the line-up, both Brian Schneider and Wilson Valdez hit 3-run homers in the 9-6 win over the Reds. Schneider went above and beyond, with three hits in the game and scored on the Valdez homer. The homer by Valdez was his 3rd of the year and only his 4th since 2004.
Joe Blanton kept the Phillies in the game, allowing just one run until the dreaded 6th inning. That has been his Achilles heel all year long. With 2 outs in the 6th, Blanton gave up a single, a walk and then a 2-run double. He did finish with 7 2/3 innings allowing just those 3 runs, so this is progress for Blanton.
But leave it Brad Lidge to try and throw away all that hard work and momentum for the Phils. With two outs in the 9th and a 3-run lead, Lidge gave up a walk, a single and then a 3-run homer to Joey Votto to tie the game and send it to extra innings. It was his 2nd blown save of the year in 7 opportunities.
So the depleted Phillies offense would have to rally yet again, and they did. In the 10th they faced Arthur Rhodes, a former Phillie, who had not allowed a run in 33 consecutive innings this year. Ryan Howard doubled, Jayson Werth walked and then Raul Ibanez stepped to the plate.
The home plate ump had a moving strike zone all night long and when a low 0-1 pitch was called a strike on Ibanez, manager Charlie Manuel finally lost his mind. He jumped out of the dugout and ripped CB Bucknor a new one, getting him tossed out of the game. But the managerial fireworks sparked the Phils in a big way. Ibanez took the very next pitch to center for an RBI double. Ben Francisco, another bench player, hit a single to score Werth and then Valdez struck again with a bunt that scored Ibanez.
And just like that, the 3-run lead that Lidge blew was back with a 9-6 score. JC Romero was called on for the second save attempt and got the job done without issue. Thank goodness for JC! You are my hero :O) Please tell Lidge that he owes you, big time.
The Phillies will play the Reds again tomorrow with a quick turnaround at 12:35pm. Roy Halladay will pitch and try to sneak the Phils out of town with a series win.
More Injury News
To replace Utley and Polanco, Greg Dobbs was brought back and is clearly still having issues. He had only 2 hits in 17 at-bats during his short time in AAA and went hitless tonight in 3 attempts. Brian Bocock was also added to the roster. At AAA this year, Bocock hit only .177 in 209 at-bats so I cannot imagine he brings much to the table either. But at this point, beggars cannot be choosers. The options are limited.
The Phillies are going to have to rely on their bench players if they are going to contend. They did it in 2007 as Tadahito Iguchi and others filled in admirably for players who went down, like Utley who got hit with a pitch, breaking his hand. Can they do it again in 2010? We shall see.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography