Since Roy Halladay was unable to perform like Roy Halladay on Wednesday night, Joe Blanton decided to step in and give it a try. Blanton did such a great Halladay impersonation that he managed to shut-out the Braves in a 3-hit complete game for a 4-0 Phillies win.
But maybe Blanton was not channeling the spirit of an ace pitcher at all; maybe this is just who Blanton is when he is actually healthy. Either that, or maybe Blanton just needs to take every other year off and only play baseball during even-numbered years?
After a few tough years, Blanton has finally gone from an average Joe to an ace. And after the previous night’s 11-inning 15-13 disaster that blew out both team’s bullpens, the Phillies pitchers really needed the boost from Blanton’s complete game.
The offense provide just enough offense to sneak out of Atlanta with a series win, 2 games to 1. Shane Victorino and Laynce Nix both homered in the game and Hunter Pence added a sac fly.
The Phillies begin a 3-game series with the first place (gulp!) Nationals on Friday night. Stephen Strasburg will pitch against Phillies fill-in extraordinaire, Kyle Kendrick (double gulp!). Game time is 7:05pm…let the fun begin!
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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Ryan Howard came off the DL today, trading places with Ross Gload who went on the DL with a strained groin. So Domonic Brown remains on the roster and Greg Dobbs has accepted an assignment in AAA. While the return of Howard was very good news, the Phillies offense still appears to be on hiatus.
The Phils managed only 2 hits and 1 run off the Nats Stephen Strasburg. Howard had the lone RBI. But early in the 5th inning, Strasburg looked at his elbow, obviously in pain, and was removed from the game. There is no word yet on how serious the injury might be. But even with the Nats rookie ace pulled from the game, the Phils offense still went silent.
Not helping the cause at all was pitcher Kyle Kendrick who had a horrible outing. Just when you thought Kendrick was getting on track, there he goes again with 5 earned runs allowed in the first 3 innings. Kendrick was pulled after just 5 2/3 innings. The Phillies have a serious decision to make here; Kendrick cannot be counted on and in a pennant race, that is not what they need.
After Chad Durbin gave up a 3-run homer in the 9th, sending the Phillies down by a score of 8-1. They will have one more shot at the Nats tomorrow at 1:35pm to try for a series win. Roy Oswalt will pitch and I will return with photos.
Against the Nationals tonight, the Phillies would face a pitcher who has not been great. Jason Marquis pitched in 5 games this year before tonight, lost all five games and gave up no less than 5 runs in each of those games. Two of those 5 games were against the Phillies. Marquis’ ERA was 14.33 going into this game.
Although the Phillies clearly had this guy’s number early in the year, tonight was another story. The offense managed only 1 run and 4 hits off Marquis in 5 innings. Raul Ibanez collected the lone run with an RBI-double in the 3rd inning to score Chase Utley. As a team, the Phillies left 7 men on base and went 1 for 6 with runners in scoring position against Marquis.
When the Nats bullpen took over, the Phillies did not fare any better. Joel Peralta pitched two innings without allowing a base runner. The good news was that Roy Halladay was pitching for the Phils. Halladay got off to a tense start as he and the home plate umpire were not seeing eye to eye. Despite walking a season high 3 batters, Halladay plowed through 7 innings of no-run ball.
Ryan Madson pitched the 8th inning and gave up a lead-off single. But after some sharp defense behind him and a couple ground outs, Madson got through the 8th safely. In 22 games since coming off the DL in July, Madson has allowed just 4 runs total.
Brad Lidge has also managed a massive turn-around in his past 7 games since blowing a save in Washington DC on July 31st. He collected his last 6 save in 6 opportunities and has not allowed a run since then. When Lidge came into the 9th tonight with no margin for error in a 1-0 game, fans had reason to be optimistic. And Lidge did not disappoint; his 7th save in a row gave Halladay his 16th win of the year.
Game 2 of this series is tomorrow at 7:05pm and the Phillies will face the Nats big gun, Stephen Strasburg, for the first time. Kyle Kendrick pitches for the Phillies.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Today’s Phillies – Marlins match-up was surrouned by all sorts of rookie news. The highly anticipated debut of the National’s Stephen Strasburg took place just up the road in DC. The right-handed pitcher signed a record $15.1 million contract last August and has been the most hyped prospect in decades. He lived up to the hype, pitching 7 innings, allowing 2 runs and striking out 14 batters, a club record. Very impressive, although he did pitch against the Pirates. The Nats will know more when he faces a tougher team, but even so, this kid looks like the real deal.
And for the Marlins, their big prospect, Mike Stanton, made his debut against the Phils. Stanton had a 3-hit night and scored twice. Needless to say, another sparkling debut for a team in the NL East.
Kyle Kendrick started for the Phils; watching him pitch this year in place of the still injured JA Happ has been an exercise in patience. Sometimes he looks good, like last week in Atlanta, and sometimes he is terrible. Today’s outing against the Marlins fell under the “terrible” category. Kendrick pitched only 5 innings and allowed 5 runs, plus he committed a throwing error which led to more runs for the Fish. Ryan Howard also committed an error in the game which put a runner on first. The next batter homered to drive that run in.
But bad pitching and sloppy defense was paired tonight with some actual hitting. Why the Phillies cannot seem to do all three of these things well all at the same time remains a mystery. Amidst Kendrick’s awful effort and 2 more runs allowed by the Phillies bullpen, the offense woke up and started to hit.
Ryan Howard and Shane Victorino both homered, Chase Utley got 2 hits in consecutive at-bats and Raul Ibanez had 4 hits and 2 RBI on the night. 4 hits? Where has this guy been all year? It’s about time…
Jayson Werth was benched to give him a chance to recover from an awful 10 at-bat hitless streak. Ben Francisco filled in and did not do much better early on. After many sloppy adventures in the outfield and grounding into 2 double plays, one of which cost them a run, Francisco made up for it all with a 2 RBI single in the 9th to give the Phillies a 9-8 lead. Wilson Valdez followed up with a single tricked up the 3rd base line to score another run.
Brad Lidge had another chance at a save with the 10-8 lead. With two outs, Lidge found himself in hot water as the loaded the bases after a close call at second base did not go the Phillies way. But no worries, he popped up the next batter and notched save #3 on the year.
By the way, this is the 3rd time this year that Kendrick has started a game and Jose Contreras got the win. Even after giving up the go-ahead run, Contreras still came out on top; Kyle must be wondering why Jose keeps stealing his thunder.
Tomorrow will be a rematch of the Roy Halladay perfect game on May 29th in Miami. Same team, same two pitchers; Halladay faces Josh Johnson again. Hopefully, same result ;o) Game time is 7:05pm.
By the way, is it just me, or does Cody Ross of the Marlins look a bit like Chucky? Creepy…
Francisco head shot by Jenn Zambri Photography