The Phillies had not lost a series since July 26-28 coming into this 3-game series with the Nationals. But three blown saves in two of three games would change that.
Roy Halladay’s outing was cut short after five innings of work due to yet another rain delay. It was the third game in the last four that involved a weather stoppage. Before the storm, Halladay had a rough first inning, allowing two runs.
After that, he seemed to settle in, but it did not matter. Here comes the rain again…
After a pretty spectacular display of lightening and a downpour, the game resumed 1 hour and 11 minutes later.
The delay turned into an opportunity for rookie Michael Schwimer who made his major league debut in this game. But two pitches into the game with a 3-2 lead, Schwimer tossed a rookie cookie to Danny Espinosa who sent the ball out of the park to tie the game. That was blown save #1.
Schwimer did extremely well though after the rookie blunder and went three innings with just the one run and two hits allowed.
The offense, which had two home runs early in the game from Carlos Ruiz and Chase Utley, had a rough 2nd part to the game. But in the ninth inning when it mattered, Michael Martinez came through against the team that dumped him into the Rule 5 draft with an RBI-single.
The Phillies had the lead again, but not for long. In the bottom of the ninth, closer Antonio Bastardo looked unstoppable. He mowed down the first two Nats quickly and then had a 1-2 count on Ian Desmond. Yes, he was ONE strike away from what looked like an easy save.
The Phillies fans were on their feet in anticipation of the win. But Desmond ruined the day, tying the game up at 4-4 with a home run to left. And just like that, all the air went out of the balloon again. It was blown save #2 on the night and #3 in three games.
The Phillies did not score in extra innings and Brad Lidge was sent in to pitch the 10th. And like a bad case of deja vu, Lidge imploded once again. Without recording a single out, Lidge loaded the bases. He did strike out one batter after that, but to no avail. Because Jonny Gomes and his magical mohawk stepped to the plate and Lidge pelted him with a pitch to walk home the winning run.
This loss was about as ugly as they come. And losing two out of three to the Nats is a tough pill to swallow. The only possible good news is that the Mets come to town tomorrow.
The bad news, besides the loss, is that Jimmy Rollins was pulled from the game early with a strained groin. He will have an MRI tomorrow. Here is the entire play which it is believed did the damage:
As for my game photos, here is the full Photo Album which includes shots from inside the Diamond Club at Nationals Park.
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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
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.
Before the final game of the Nationals series today, umpire and Philly native Jerry Crawford was honored for his 33 years of MLB service. Today was to be his last Phillies game as he will retire at the end of the year. Crawford was given a standing ovation and a present from the Phanatic; a baby Phanatic doll:
Once the game began, Roy Oswalt was in control. Though he had a rather high pitch count and led off several innings with runners, Oswalt got the job done when he needed to. He was also very effective at the plate with two hits and in his third at-bat, almost hit a home run. The ball went all the way to the warning track in deep center before a Nat tracked it down. A little bit to the left and it would have gone out.
Oswalt gave up 5 hits and a walk in 7 innings without allowing a run. His day was cut short when the skies opened up and dumped buckets of rain onto the field. The 1 hour, 44 minute delay sent many fans home early.
But to that point, the Phillies offense started to hit again. Jimmy Rollins double to lead off the game and a sac fly from Placido Polanco scored him. Later in the 3rd, Oswalt scored after one of his hits and a Polanco single. The 6th inning was interesting as well. With 2 men on and 2 outs, the Nats decided to intentionally walk Carlos Ruiz to get to Wilson Valdez. With the bases then loaded, Valdez made them pay with a 2-run single.
There were a lot of good play both on offense and defense:
And then there were some not so great plays, like a Ruiz throwing error to second. And some weird plays too; if you look at the top row of photos below, you will see Ryan Zimmerman checking out Valdez’s leg; Nats shortstop Ian Desmond, who caught a ground ball which got stuck in the netting of his glove, allowing another hit from Oswalt; and finally, Adam Kennedy puts his hand in a place that Rollins probably did not appreciate:
With a 4-0 lead coming out of the rain delay, Rollins got another hit and Raul Ibanez cranked a 2-run homer to give the Phils a 6-0 win and a 2 game to 1 win in the series. Ibanez, Polanco and Valdez each had 2-RBI on the day. Valdez played in place of Chase Utley who was given a day off to rest.
And now the real fun begins; the Astros are coming to town for a 4-games series. It will be like the Phillies vs. all the guys the Phillies no longer wanted. Both Brett Myers and JA Happ will pitch in the series, plus we will see more old teammates like Michael Bourn, Nelson Figueroa and Jason Michaels. Myers will pitch tomorrow against Joe Blanton at 7:05pm.
Here is the full Photo Album from the game. If it is not working, try again later. TypePad is having issues with photo albums right now.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
In his much anticipated start to 2010, Cole Hamels had a fairly good day in an 8-4 win over the Nationals. He only managed to get through 5 innings with 2 earned runs and one unearned, but for his first start of the year, it was not bad. When he led off the game by walking the first batter on 4 pitches, fans cringed for a moment. But Hamels bounced back and did not have trouble again until the 3rd inning; he walked 2 more batters with 2 outs then allowed an RBI single. 2 runs scored that inning and his pitch count began to rise.
It did appear that the home plate umpire was squeezing the pitchers on both sides, which did not help matters. So with 103 pitches thrown by the end of the 5th, Hamels was done for the day. His arm speed looked good today, but his control still needs some work. Overall, it was a good first effort and hopefully the next start for Hamels will be even more productive.
Ryan Howard extended the 4th inning for Hamels a bit with an error on a ball to first that probably should have ended the inning. But Howard made up for the blunder by smashing a 2-run homer in the 5th. That is 2 games and 2 home runs for Howard; and for good measure, he hit an RBI double as well. Chase Utley had 2 hits, a walk and an RBI, in typical Utley style. Even Hamels joined the RBI party with a single to score Shane Victorino in the 4th.
After Hamels left the game, Chad Durbin did an outstanding job and went 2 scoreless innings. Danys Baez did not fare as well in the 8th, allowing 2 hits and a run in 1/3 of an inning. Antonio Bastardo came in to get the 2nd out and Ryan Madson struck out Ian Desmond for the 3rd out. Madson got the ball for the 9th as well and closed out the game for his first save of the year.
In these 1st two games of 2010, the Nationals pitchers have walked 17 Phillies batters. As our fearless TV announcer Gary “Sarge” Matthews said, “You don’t want to walk batters.” That is our Sarge; King of the Obvious. If the Nats can keep up this streak tomorrow, the Phils may just sweep this first 3-game series.
Roster Moves and Injury Updates
The Phillies also made a pitching move today, picking up Nelson Figueroa off waivers after the Mets let him go. He went 3-8 with a 4.09 ERA in 16 games last year for the Mets. Figueroa pitched for the Phils in 2001 and according to GM Ruben Amaro Jr., he will join the club tomorrow and a roster move will be made to make room. Look for Andrew Carpenter to be sent to AAA; Figueroa will take the long-man role in the pen.
In injury news, JC Romero is going to make a rehab appearance Thursday in Clearwater. Brad Lidge is not as far along, but he will toss a bullpen session tomorrow. Joe Blanton threw 60 pitches today from flat ground, which went well, but his recovery time is still projected to be about 3-6 weeks.
So tomorrow the Phillies will finish up in DC at 4:35pm with Kyle Kendrick starting in place of the injured Blanton. Then they are off to Houston for 3 games. There is no official word yet on who will start the Phillies Home Opener on the 12th, but if they follow the regular rotation, it looks like it will be Hamels.
Photo by Jenn