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
The Phillies bullpen returned from their 2-day vacation tonight. Due to some amazing starting pitching, the pen had not been used since Tuesday. Many are wishing that the vacation had never ended.
Roy Oswalt was lights-out for four innings and finally gave up a hit in the fifth, a solo homer. He then allowed one more run after back-to-back doubles by the Marlins in the sixth.
After a bunt in the bottom of the sixth inning, Oswalt grabbed his left side as he crossed first base. Uh-oh. While he walked to the mound to start the seventh, Charlie Manuel and the Phillies trainer quickly ran out after him and removed him before he threw a pitch. The diagnosis was a lower back strain.
Oswalt has a history of back issues, while was one of the main concerns when he was traded to the Phils last year. How serious this particular issue is has yet to be determined.
With the injury to Oswalt, the bullpen’s vacation was officially over. JC Romero came in for one batter and on a hopping ground ball, he could not resist the urge to attempt to field it as it bounced over his head. The ball glanced off his glove and spun away from Pete Orr at second base giving Logan Morrison an infield single.
Bad luck for Romero turned into a disaster for Danys Baez. He quickly issued a walk and a single to load the bases. Then instead of bringing in lefty Antonio Bastardo to face ex-Phillie Greg Dobbs, Manuel left Baez in. Big mistake. Dobbs greeted the undeserved boos from the crowd with a 2-run single. The boos came before the hit.
Dobbs was an amazing pinch hitter for the Phils in 2008 when he helped them win the World Championship. He had a bad year last year, but that was certainly not deserving of such a reception. In addition, Dobbs is one of the nicest players I have ever met. Genuinely nice, not just putting on a show. He always had time to chat, time for autographs and did some great charity work with disabled children in the Philly area. Those who booed him should be ashamed.
But I digress…those two runs Dobbs knocked in gave the Marlins a 4-3 lead. But what it also did was give Phillies fan one more reason to dislike Baez. He looked better than last year early in the year and in the spring, but clearly, he cannot be trusted in a close game.
While the rest of bullpen held, the offense could not come though. Orr swung at the first pitch in the ninth inning and flew out. John Mayberry Jr. drew a walk, but both Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco flew out as well.
This was a depressing game to lose, but the Phillies have made a habit early this year of losing the first game of a series and then winning the next two. Let’s hope that trend continues.
In the meantime, here is a little comic relief. It is a make-believe conversation between Cliff Lee and Jayson Werth. Warning: If cuss words offend you or small children are around, do not play the video. Otherwise, enjoy ;o)
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Game 3 with the Marlins today turned into a Big Top Circus act. Both teams battled and drama ensued…
To start with, it was not an awful game for Joe Blanton tonight. But there was certainly some excitement. The 3rd inning in particular had a little bit of everything, much like a circus; a couple hits, an error, a minor injury, a deflected ball and a few runs. And Blanton was involved in all of it. He gave up the hits, committed the error, got nailed in the leg with a hit ball and later deflected a sure double play ball, ruining the opportunity for Chase Utley who could then only get one out. The only thing missing from this inning was a juggling clown.
But after Blanton survived the 3rd inning weirdness, he did fairly well. It was not pretty, but it kept the Phillies in the game. Blanton ended up with 6 1/3 innings pitched, 2 earned runs, 2 unearned runs, 2 walks and 5 strike outs.
The offense worked out some runs to help Blanton out as well. The middle of the line-up was productive with Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins getting 2 hits each; 1 RBI for Howard and 2 for Rollins. Raul Ibanez had a huge night with 3 hits and 3 RBI; Ibanez, Howard and Shane Victorino each hit solo home runs as well.
But all that offense was about to be erased by the Phillies bullpen. Oh yes, the circus has come back to town…and not in a good way. Antonio Bastardo allowed one of Blanton’s runners to score in the 7th. But the 8th inning was nearly the killer as the bullpen got into serious hot water…
Jose Contreras looked like he had never pitched in the majors before; he started off with a home run and a double. A Jayson Werth throwing error later allowed another run to score and Contreras wound up with 3 earned runs. With 2 outs, JC Romero came in and balked, moving the Marlins runner to 3rd base. He then walked Logan Morrison on 4 pitches.
However, it was not over yet…Ryan Madson came in and tossed a wild pitch, which probably should have been handled my Carlos Ruiz. Instead, the runner on 3rd scored to tie the game. So the Phillies bullpen took a 7-4 lead and blew it. And 2 of those 3 runs scored with 2 outs in the inning. Disgusting.
With a 7-7 tie in the bottom of the 8th, Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco put the “T” in team; Victorino singled and stole second. Then Polly singled to score Victorino. And that all happened with 2 outs; what a way to pick-up your teammates!
In the 9th, it would be in the hands of Madson to save this see-saw game. He got 2 outs quickly and then walked a batter. Then facing ex-Phillie Wes Helms with a runner on, Madson struck out his old teammate. This 8-7 win, plus a Braves loss tonight = FIRST PLACE! The Phillies also became the first team in the National League to reach 80 wins. Again, it wasn’t pretty…but we’ll take it. You may now exhale…whew!
Player photos by Jenn Zambri Photography