Tonight’s Phillies game against the Nationals looked more like a game of dodgeball than baseball. Bats and balls were flying everywhere as players dodged out of the way or dropped the ball like it was on fire.
In the fourth inning, Jimmy Rollins reached base when Ian Desmond dropped an easy ground ball. One batter later, Desmond nearly football tackled Rollins who was on his way to third base. As J-Roll rolled to the ground, the umpire called interference on Desmond and Rollins was safe at third.
Both Rollins and Ryan Howard had ball-handling issues as well. The ball got stuck in each of their gloves at one point but they each recovered.
More flying objects threatened in the bottom of the fourth inning. Danny Espinosa shattered his bat on a swing and pieces of the bat flew right at Roy Halladay, who was standing defenseless on the mound. Luckily, the bat just grazed his glove. Right behind him, Wilson Valdez fielded the ball cleanly despite the flying debris an turned and amazing double play to end the inning.
Ryan Howard tried to dodge a ball in the fifth when pitcher John Lannan hit him in the hand. Nightmares of Chase Utley’s broken hand in 2007, who was also hit by Lannan, swirled in the air. But Howard was fine and a run was walked home as a result.
Oh, and Roy Halladay was pretty good tonight, too. With the offense spotting him three runs, Halladay mowed down Nats batters one by one. Even Jayson Werth, who was great on Tuesday night, could not dodge the bullets from his former teammate.
Werth finally got a hit in the ninth inning, as Halladay was then the one trying to dodge a bullet. With one run in, Werth on third and only one out in a 3-1 game, Charlie Manuel went to the mound to get Halladay who it appears, refused to leave. Manuel gave Halladay his wish and left him in. The next batter hit an infield single to cut the Phils lead to 3-2.
Still, Halladay stayed on the mound. Next up was another former Phillies, Matt Stairs. Normally one who swings away, Stairs froze as three straight strikes flew by. Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez suffered the same fate as he struck out looking to end the game, despite protests to the umpire.
The Phillies won by a score of 3-2. As for Roy Halladay, bullet dodged.
If there is one team out there that pitcher Kyle Kendrick should be able to handle, you would probably pick the Nationals. However, in the first inning tonight it did not look good. Kendrick gave up a run and loaded the bases. But after chatting with pitching coach, Rich Dubee, Kendrick calmed down and got out of the jam.
Kendrick has been the big unknown all year long; as in, no one knows what he might do in any given start. He has given up no less than 4 runs in each of his last 4 starts while pitching no more than 6 innings in any of those game. But tonight, he handled the Nats and allowed only 2 runs over 6 inning.
The offense got Kendrick a descent lead with some homers and a few other timely hits. Both Raul Ibanez and Wilson Valdez had 3-hit nights and they each collected an RBI. Shane Victorino had 2 hits and a walk in the leadoff spot. Valdez, filling in for the still lame Jimmy Rollins, tripped going around the bases in the 3rd inning and looked like he was hurt. Luckily, he shook it off and kept playing. But with all the injuries this year, that was a scary moment.
Also in the 3rd, Ryan Howard broke some more Phillies records. With a 2-run homer, Howard became the first Phillie ever to record 5 straight 30 home run, 100 RBI seasons. Chuck Klein had done it 4 straight seasons. Howard’s 252nd career homer also put him into third place all-time for home runs by a Phillie. He passed Pat Burrell who had 251 homers.
In the 7th, there was a bit of a counting mix-up involving the Nats lead-off hitter, Danny Espinosa. After he watched 2 strikes go by and swung and missed at the 3rd pitch, Espinosa hung around, waiting for another pitch. From the Phillies dugout, Roy Oswalt held up 3 fingers for him, hoping he would get a clue. Instead, Espinosa stood there and proceeded to argue the strike count with the umpire. Poor kid; maybe he took counting lessons on Sesame Street with the Mets alumni? :
Later in the 8th, Ryan Madson came in to pitch with a 5-2 lead and got himself into big trouble. After a fly ball out, he walked the next 2 batters and gave up a single to load the bases with one out. A 3-run lead for the Phillies these days is not a sure thing by any means. But Madson found where he had hidden his fastball location and got the next two outs.
Brad Lidge came in for the 9th and recorded his 23rd save of the year and did so with only 8 pitches. Not to be outdone by Howard’s accomplishments, Lidge moved past Tug McGraw on the Phillies all-time saves list with 95.
Tomorrow afternoon at 1:35pm, the Phillies will try to sweep the Nats with Joe Blanton on the mound. I shall return with photos and hopefully, a win :O)
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography