The day began with promise as the Phillies players warmed up and took batting practice on a mild, sunny day. There were smiles all around; fans and players were happy to be back in Philly for a new season. Roy Halladay had extra reason to smile today; he was named the NL Player of the Week for his 2 wins and sparkly clean 0.56 ERA.
The Opening Ceremonies went off without a hitch; fans lined the red carpet in centerfield to greet the players; the 2009 NL Championship flag was hoisted and the Navy Seals jumped out of an airplane to deliver the game ball:
And then, the drama began. The Phillies took the field, but for some reason, Jimmy Rollins looked a bit like Juan Castro at short stop. Oh wait, it is Juan Castro…what??
Like the game, “Where’s Waldo?”, fans everywhere chatted about “Where’s J-Roll?” He was announced as a starter; what is going on here? Turns out, Jimmy strained his calf muscle during the pre-game warm-ups, right after the Opening Ceremonies.
Rollins will have an MRI tomorrow and his Red Bull / Guinness World Record for the longest batted ball event has been postponed. Jayson Werth was also injured today, although his issue appears to be less serious. He left before the 6th inning with soreness in his left hip…no MRI is schedule for Werth.
As for the game, things looked a bit dicey as Cole Hamels allowed 4 runs in the first four innings. He settled in and would have gotten through 6 total if not for an error by Castro to extend the 6th inning. But Castro did pull through at the plate with a double in the 5th that led to a huge 5 run inning, so we forgive him.
Placido Polanco made a big splash that same inning, singling in 2 runs. Chase Utley put the exclamation mark on the inning by then smashing a 2-run homer to right that bounced off the foul pole net. Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth also collected RBI’s on the day to rally their team to a 7-4 win over the Nationals. Here is some of the game action:
The bullpen did a great job as well; 4 pitchers combined for 3 1/3 scoreless innings. Danys Baez looked shaky at first, throwing 7 straight balls before he got an out. But he got out of the jam and then Ryan Madson closed the game, looking very sharp. And it is a good thing too as Brad Lidge’s recovery is not looking promising right now.
And here is just one more fun moment from the day; near the very end of the National Anthem, Chase Utley was so anxious to get the game started, he bolted for the dugout before it was over, realizing after a few seconds that no one else was following him. Funny stuff:
You have to love the man’s enthusiasm. Here is the full Photo Album of the game and ceremonies. Off day tomorrow…back at the Nats on Wednesday :O)
Photos by Jenn
After the oddities involved in yesterday’s Phillies-Mets match-up, including a game-ending unassisted triple play, the circus act continued into the beginning of today’s game. Yesterday, the Phillies hit two 3-run homers in the first inning; today, they only managed one 3-run homer in the first inning, but still an amazing feat. Ryan Howard provided the power after Shane Victorino was hit by a pitch and Chase Utley walked. Victorino also stole second and then wound up on third base after a throwing error that same inning, leaving the Mets looking like a pack of clowns.
But the spectacle got even weirder in the bottom half of the 1st; Chase Utley must have taken up juggling in his spare time, because that is exactly what he did with a routine pop-up from the first hitter for the Mets, Angel Pagan. Utley dropped the ball as Pagan sped around the bases and then proceeded to join the Mets clown troop by throwing the ball away into left field. The double error allowed Pagan to round the bases and score. Pagan is the same Met who wound up with an inside-the-park homer in the 1st inning of yesterday’s game after Victorino became confused over the Citi Field ground rules and did not field a ball that got stuck under the outfield wall padding.
Next, Jayson Werth put on his clown suit as he over ran a ball to right field, stumbled around trying to catch it on a hop and looked absolutely ridiculous doing it. Gary Sheffield wound up with a triple and eventually scored. And this was only the 1st inning.
Oh yes, the circus has indeed come to town. But Sheffield, despite his triple, was next in line to receive his badge of silliness as in the 2nd inning, he too dropped a routine pop-up which came off the bat of Phillies catcher, Paul Bako.
But after the 2nd inning, things began to calm down and Cliff Lee was amazing, yet again. Ignoring the shoddy defense at the start of the game, he buckled down and pitch 7 solid innings, allowing 6 hits and NO earned runs. Both Mets runs were unearned due to the Utley errors. Lee is now 5-0 as a Phillie and has yet to even walk a batter! Lee is the anti-clown; just amazing.
Howard hit another homer (say that 5 times fast) in the 3rd inning and the 2-run shot plus the 3-run shot earlier was all the offense Lee needed to notch the win. But just for fun, Raul Ibanez knocked in one more in the 9th inning on a double to left that scored Utley.
Chan Ho Park and Brad Lidge took the 8th and 9th inning respectively and shut down the Mets. Lidge looked good which is excellent news, especially considering he went into a non-save situation and still got the job done cleanly.
Player of the Week
Jayson Werth has been on fire! Whatever has been lit under his backside recently has earned him Player of the Week honors for the National League. Werth led the majors with 5 home runs and 29 total bases plus he hit .440 for the week. Today, he did not have a hit in the game, but did walk three times. Congrats to Jayson!
Eric “I am only hitting .158” Bruntlett has been asked to send his jersey to the Hall of Fame. Yesterday, Bruntlett turned an unassisted, game-ending triple play after a horrible start to the inning where he committed 1 official error and bobbled another ball that was eventually scored a hit. But redemption is sweet as Bruntlett not only saved the game, but he made history in the process.
This will actually be the 2nd item for Bruntlett in the Hall; last year, he donated his “Elmer Fudd” cold-weather, ear-flap cap from the World Series.
The Phillies are on their way to Pittsburgh to begin a 3-game series with the Pirates tomorrow. Joe Blanton will take the mound for the Phillies; game time is 7:05pm.
Photos by Jenn
As for the rest of the gang, Kendrick looked a bit shaky tonight. His sinker wasn’t really sinking and I think it was good to pull him early and just unfortunate that Durbin could not hold those 2 runs in after he left. The offense did leave a lot of men on base again, which made the game a lot more interesting than it should have been. A strange base running mistake by Pat Burrell in the 5th to get tagged out, leading to a double play, really didn’t help either. But, thanks to 2 great catches by Utley, his 5th night in a row with a home run, and a huge save, yet again, by Lidge, a win is a win!
And as for Chase Utley, deserving as ever, he has been named the National League Player of the Week for the 5th time in his career and the second time this year. After hitting 5 home runs last week which led the Majors, he became the first second baseman ever in Major League history to reach 20 total home runs in one season in fewer than 60 games. Of course, after tonight’s game, bring that total up to 21 homers! He also had a league leading 14 RBI’s and 25 total bases last week with a slugging percentage of 1.087, coming in 2nd place there. Looks like he is well on his way to All-Star game #3 this year, having topped everyone in the NL in votes at last count. Remember to keep voting. You can VOTE 25 times a day! Let’s see if we can get Pat Burrell in there. How about J-Roll and all the rest of the Phillies too! Keep voting…
And can I have a drum roll please… It is the moment you have all been waiting for! Well, maybe just a few of you anyway J I finally broke down and did the voodoo to the Atlanta Braves! My uncle, a lifetime Braves fan, will just have to deal. I don’t think he is reading this anyway J So, here is J-Roll Smurf, yet again, doing the dirty work! Only this time, he has graduated to a big-boy bat and enlisted the help of “Colemit the Frog” who will hold the Braves rally monkey still while J-Roll Smurf whacks him with the big-boy bat:
So, if all this stuffie toy magic does not keep the Phillies a-top the NL East, then I just don’t know what will! So, no Ken Griffey Jr. tonight…the suspense continues… Go Phillies!