The Phillies celebrated the Phanatic’s birthday today. Afterwards, they got to celebrate a win as well. In a very close 3-2 victory over the Marlins, the Phillies saw their season record improve to 10-4 in front of the second largest regular season crowd since Citizens Bank Park opened in 2004.
All 45,716 people were treated to a birthday party for the Phanatic before the game began. Local Philly mascots and some mascots from other MLB teams joined the party too. The ZOOperstars also attended and yes, there was a cake made entirely of Tastycakes:
As for the game, Placido Polanco got the Phillies off to fast start with a solo homer off Marlins pitcher Anibal Sanchez in the first inning. A single by Raul Ibanez later knocked Jimmy Rollins in for a 2-0 lead.
And that is how the score would remain for five innings as Cole Hamels looked very sharp. He finally bent in the sixth, allowing two runs, but finished seven full innings without giving up a big inning.
Hamels’ performance was what kept the Phillies in the game as the hits were not coming easily. Polanco would up with three hits and Ben Francisco had two. That accounted for five of the Phillies eight hits total.
There were some odd and sloppy plays throughout the game by both teams. Ibanez made a spectacular running catch in the fourth inning (see photo below). But the next inning, he missed basically the exact same ball. And Shane Victorino stumbled while on first base and got picked off in the fifth:
The third run for the Phillies was courtesy of a Marlins goof in the eighth. Ryan Howard hit a fly ball to left and Logan Morrison somehow missed it as the sun appeared to interfere with his vision. Francisco took advantage and singled and then Ibanez moved Howard to third on a ground out. Carlos Ruiz put the RBI on the board with a sac fly, giving the Phils the 3-2 lead.
In the ninth, Jose Contreras did his best Brad Lidge imitation and scared the crap out of everyone in attendance with a circus-like save. He walked the first batter and a few ground balls moved the runner to third.
As if this were not frightening enough, Contreras then walked Chris Coghlan, who then stole second base. But Omar Infante then grounded out for the third out and Contreras got his third save of the year, although it was not pretty.
The Phillies split the 2 games with the Marlins as Saturday’s game has been rescheduled for 6/15. On Monday night, they begin a 3-game series with the Brewers. Game time is 7:05pm and Joe Blanton will pitch.
The full Photo Album from today’s game, including batting practice and the birthday bash, will be posted tomorrow afternoon. Check back for that.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
What would have been the perfect ending to an outstanding season for rookie pitcher JA Happ went instead to Chris Coghlan of the Marlins. The Rookie of the Year award is voted on by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America and this year, it looks like they may have gotten it wrong.
While it is difficult to compare a hitter like Coghlan to a pitcher like Happ, perhaps the deciding factor should be which player had the greatest impact on their team? Happ filled the void left by starters Brett Myers and Jamie Moyer; without him, the Phillies would not have made the playoffs. Coghlan’s resume is impressive, but his team did not go to the post-season.
To review, Happ went 12-4 with a 2.93 ERA, topping all rookies in innings pitched (166), strikeouts (119), complete game shut-outs (2) and 3 total shut-outs. Coghlan hit .321 with 9 homers, 47 RBI, 162 hits and a .390 on-base percentage. Again, difficult to compare, but clearly good pitching beats good hitting as has been demonstrated by years of baseball past.
So while myself and probably a lot of people feel that Happ was snubbed having come in 2nd place, these awards are seldom fair. But the second place finish does not diminish what was an amazing season for Happ, who has more than proved his worth to this team. As a consolation prize, I hereby dub JA Happ the “Fan Rookie of the Year“! Yes, complete with a photo montage:
In other news, the Phillies have removed the following players from the 40-man roster, making them free agents: Eric Bruntlett, Tyler Walker, Paul Hoover, Andy Tracy and John Ennis. Tracy will likely be back next year with the Iron Pigs (AAA) in Allentown as well as Ennis. Hoover may find himself serving as a back-up catcher if not one fills that spot right away. But it does look like Bruntlett and Walker will probably be gone.
Free agent signings will begin on Friday.
Photos by Jenn