As far as headlines go, the one above is not what Phillies fans generally expect to see. But it was a back-up player and a much maligned bullpen pitcher who saved the day for the Phillies on Wednesday night against the Reds.
It took more than six hours and nine pitchers, but the Phillies finally pulled out a 5-4, 19-inning win. Both offenses struggled to score runs and for the Phils, this has been problematic all season.
I have two words rattling around my brain in regards to the Phillies offense: frustrating and painful. This team has been painful to watch most of the season so far. And they keep repeating the same mistakes over and over, which is incredibly frustrating.
For example, Raul Ibanez led off the sixth inning with a triple. So with NO outs and a man on third, what should happen just doesn’t. Carlos Ruiz swung at the first pitch and popped out. John Mayberry Jr. watched a called-strike three go by. And then Wilson Valdez is walked intentionally to get to the pitcher. Result: NO run, when all they needed was a sac fly or some form of contact with the ball that did not turn into a pop-up.
And this is exactly the sort of thing that is plaguing the Phillies offense. They faced a Reds pitcher who was off his game and they did not take advantage. Instead, they got themselves out by being impatient and swinging at bad pitches.
So just like Tuesday night, with a 3-1 lead, the Phillies watched the Reds come back to tie the game, 3-3 by the seventh inning. They got hurt, again, by Jay Bruce with two outs and the bases loaded. He hit a two-run single off Roy Halladay, who had a few issues tonight. However, the defense behind him did little to help.
But once the game entered the wee hours of the morning, many forgot that Halladay had even started the game. The bullpen took over for a total of 12 innings.
Danys Baez, who has taken a lot of abuse from Phillies fans for his lack of consistency, was one of the hero’s in this game. He pitched a career-high five innings and 73 pitches to carry the Phils through the 18th inning. He allowed only one hit, one walk and zero runs.
Last year, Baez was so bad that many hoped he would be cut. And this year has been up and down for him. But rest assured that after an effort like this, Baez is keeping his job.
After Baez exited, the unexpected happened. Wilson Valdez stepped onto the pitcher’s mound. And he was tasked with facing the heart of the Reds line-up in Joey Votto, Scott Rolen and Jay Bruce, who had absolutely been killing the Phils all series long.
But Valdez gave a valiant performance, even clocking over 90mph on the radar gun. He got Votto to fly out to deep center, hit Rolen with a pitch and then two more fly-outs to end the inning. As he exited the field, the crowd went crazy cheering for him.
Valdez is the first player to start in the field and move on to pitching since Babe Ruth. Seriously. He is also the first Phillies position player to pitch since Tomas Perez did it in 2002. The game win went to Valdez and afterwards he told Comcast Sportsnet, “I like to win,” in response to why he agreed to pitch. He also joked that he could have gone three or four more innings.
Raul Ibanez hit a sac fly to score Jimmy Rollins for the win in the 19th inning. In a game where an infielder pitched, a catcher (Carlos Ruiz) played third base and the team left 16 men on base, this win has to be a huge boost for the Phillies.
The last game with the Reds comes quick after this one; Thursday afternoon at 1:05pm. Cliff Lee will pitch.
Ross Gload is not playing right now due to a slight muscle tear in his hip. This is same sort of injury that Chase Utley played through in 2008, which eventually required surgery. Gload is expected to play through it as well.
Jose Contreras should return to the team sometime this week. Odds are good that David Herndon will be sent down to make room.
Chase Utley got a day off today, except for a pinch-hitting appearance, in what appears to be an effort to err on the side of caution by not pushing him too hard, too soon. He should play again Thursday.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Ryan Madson had been plowing down hitters, allowing just one run all season until Tuesday night. The Phillies lost to the Reds by a score of 6-3 after a hairy ninth inning.
Rookie Vance Worley started the game and was a little rusty after being switched from starter to reliever to the minors and back to starting again as Joe Blanton made his second trip to the DL this month. Worley was still pretty good, considering the way he has been bounced around lately.
Over five innings, Worley allowed three runs on six hits and four walks.
Raul Ibanez and Carlos Ruiz carried the offense as both players are suddenly on fire. Ibanez went 3-for-4 with an RBI and Ruiz was 2-for-3, also with an RBI.
Chase Utley was in the line-up again since returning from the DL. He was hitless on Monday, but finally got a hit Tuesday night. That single turned out to be a momentum shift in the game, only not in the right direction.
Juan Samuel waived home Jimmy Rollins from second on the play for no apparent reason and he was a dead duck at home plate by about a mile. There had been only one out in the inning at the time and losing that run seemed to kill the Phillies offense.
Utley was involved in a number of odd plays in the field as well, which sent him scrambling all over the place to track down balls hit into no-man’s land. Here are a few of those plus some other plays:
But in the end, the game came down to the bullpen. After a 13-inning scoreless streak, Ryan Madson finally had a bad day. With one out in the ninth, Madson made a bad throw to first and things snowballed from there.
After loading the bases, Madson gave up a 3-run double to Jay Bruce. The Reds had a 6-3 lead and the Phillies offense was unable to come back in the bottom of the inning. Hopefully, Madson can start a new streak tonight.
Here is the full Photo Album from the game. The third game with the Reds is tonight at 7:05pm.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
The crowd went wild as Chase Utley stepped to the plate for his 2011 debut tonight against the Reds. After missing the start of the season with knee issues, the Phillies have anxiously awaited the return of their leader. It was so thrilling to see Utley back in the line-up, fans everywhere felt like skipping joyously through a field of wildflowers.
The overwhelming exhilaration poured onto the field and bled over into the Phillies recently dreadful offense. Runs began to pour out like rain drops. The Phils scored ten runs tonight, which equaled the run total of their last seven games combined.
Oddly enough, the only starter in the line-up, including the pitcher, to not have a hit was Utley. He went 0-5. But just his presence alone was motivation for this struggling offense.
Domonic Brown got his first hit since being called up. Carlos Ruiz racked up three hits. Both Raul Ibanez and Placido Polanco had two hits and two RBI each. And Jimmy Rollins put a charge into his bat with two hits, including a three-run homer.
Cole Hamels started the game and did well until he allowed a three-run homer in the fourth to Jay Bruce. Hamels went six innings, allowing five hits. Because of the huge Phillies lead, he was able to come out of the game early and take a little break.
Phillies fans had a blast tonight, cheering for Chase and finally seeing some offense. As an added bonus, they were able to boo Scott Rolen, which was the icing on the cake. The Phillies won by a score of 10-3.
The question now is can this offense take the huge momentum that Utley provided and carry it over from game to game? I will be at the ballpark Tuesday night to find out and I shall return with photos.
Game time is 7:05pm; Vance Worley gets the start.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
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