Until the 9th inning today, it looked like the Phillies may lose a game in the standings, where they lead the Braves by 3 games. Down 6-3 against the Nationals, a win and a 3-game sweep look unlikely. But if you have ever seen this Phillies team play, you know never to say never.
Joe Blanton appeared to be cruising right along at the start of the game. But that dreaded 6th inning came creeping up on him and Blanton did his Jekyll and Hyde routine and became Blah-anton. With 2 outs in the inning, he allowed a 3-run homer to give the Nats a 4-3 lead. So close, yet so far….Blanton has had issues in the 6th inning of games all year long.
The Phillies had some issues hitting Yunesky Maya, a rookie whom they have never faced. Generally, this offense struggles against new pitchers. It took until the 4th inning for them to figure him out when a Brian Schneider double scored their first 2 runs. Then a Jayson Werth single scored Placido Polanco in the 5th.
But drama unfolded in the 6th when Shane Victorino struck out on a check swing. He got upset and tossed his helmet and bat. 3rd base umpire Angel Hernandez either did not like the outburst or maybe Victorino said something and he threw Victorino out of the game. For now, the details are unclear. Victorino’s reaction, on the other hand, was easy to spot:
Victorino pushed past the home plate ump and ran towards Hernandez. 3rd base coach Sam Perlozzo had to restrain him while manager Charlie Manuel ran out to see what was going on. No one knows yet what the consequences will be for Victorino, but it was a bonehead move on his part. Victorino should have controlled himself. Now we wait to see what happens next…
The Phils offense went to sleep for 2 innings after that while the bullpen gave up 2 more runs. The 6-3 deficit looked insurmountable based on the way the Phils were playing…until the 9th inning. Polanco singled, Chase Utley doubled and Ryan Howard singled to score both runners. Howard was hitless to that point, so it was a huge boost for both him and the whole team. Werth stepped to the plate and smashed a walk-off home run, giving the Phillies an improbable 7-6 win.
With this win today and the Braves also winning, the Phillies maintain their 3-game lead over the Braves in the NL East. The real fun begins tomorrow night when the Phils start a 3-game series with the Braves that has massive playoff implications. With 12 games to go, the Phillies need a combination of wins and/or Braves losses equal to 10 to clinch. These next 3 games are HUGE.
In the meantime, check out the Photo Album from today’s game which includes the game, the Philadelphia Zoo at the ballpark and the Paul Owens minor league awards presentation. Scott Mathieson won the Best Pitcher award and Domonic Brown won the Best Player award.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography