The Phillies have been playing an unusual and frustrating game of hide and seek with their offense for well over a month now. Tonight against the Pirates, play time ended in the 3rd inning when the offense finally came out and yelled, “Here we are!” while scoring 5 runs.
The Phillies scored in 6 out of 9 innings tonight, making some wish they had saved a few runs for the next game. But the early Independence Day offensive fireworks display was long overdue. After scoring just 8 runs in their last 3 games, the Phils exploded tonight to the tune of 12 runs.
Every starter in the game had at least one hit. Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins each collected 3 RBI on 2 and 3 hits, respectively. Shane Victorino also had 3 hits and 1 RBI. Cody Ransom was called up from the minors and took the place of Brian Bocock on the roster. Ransom, right off the airplane, contributed immediately with 2 hits and an RBI.
Last year, Ransom filled in at 3rd for the Yankees when Alex Rodriquez was hurt. A knee injury this year delayed his call up to the Phils big club until today, but Ransom is healthy now and will fill need to a big hole as Placido Polanco recovers on the DL. But Ransom’s defense came into question tonight when he dropped an easy pop-fly in the 8th inning. The 10-run lead made it less of an issue, but Ransom had better shape up quick. This team needs him to be solid at 3rd.
Ben Francisco started in place of Raul Ibanez who has just not been hitting. Francisco looked rusty his first few at-bats, but after a couple nice swings, he belted his first home run of the year and collected 2 RBI. The job in left field should be his for the taking if he continues to hit.
The only player who still looked perplexed at the plate tonight was Jayson Werth. He did hit an RBI double in the 4th that almost went for a homer, but he looked terrible in every other at-bat. Werth is taking strikes and swinging at balls. He struck out in his first at-bat on a ball in the dirt.
But with most everyone else hitting, Werth’s struggles do not make a huge impact. Plus, Kyle Kendrick pitched a very good game, allowing just 3 earned runs in the 12-4 win. And for the first time in his major league career, he pitched a complete game. Congrats to Kendrick!
Having lost the first two games to a very bad team, the Phillies really need to come away with a split here and build momentum going into the Braves series which starts Monday. Joe Blanton will pitch in the finale tomorrow; game time is 1:35pm.
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