Despite having two of their best players sent to the DL today in Chase Utley and Placido Polanco, the Phillies still came out swinging against the Reds. More importantly, it was the back-up players who made the biggest impact on the game. This gives Phillies fans hope that even with 7 players on the DL, they can still produce.
At the very bottom of the line-up, both Brian Schneider and Wilson Valdez hit 3-run homers in the 9-6 win over the Reds. Schneider went above and beyond, with three hits in the game and scored on the Valdez homer. The homer by Valdez was his 3rd of the year and only his 4th since 2004.
Joe Blanton kept the Phillies in the game, allowing just one run until the dreaded 6th inning. That has been his Achilles heel all year long. With 2 outs in the 6th, Blanton gave up a single, a walk and then a 2-run double. He did finish with 7 2/3 innings allowing just those 3 runs, so this is progress for Blanton.
But leave it Brad Lidge to try and throw away all that hard work and momentum for the Phils. With two outs in the 9th and a 3-run lead, Lidge gave up a walk, a single and then a 3-run homer to Joey Votto to tie the game and send it to extra innings. It was his 2nd blown save of the year in 7 opportunities.
So the depleted Phillies offense would have to rally yet again, and they did. In the 10th they faced Arthur Rhodes, a former Phillie, who had not allowed a run in 33 consecutive innings this year. Ryan Howard doubled, Jayson Werth walked and then Raul Ibanez stepped to the plate.
The home plate ump had a moving strike zone all night long and when a low 0-1 pitch was called a strike on Ibanez, manager Charlie Manuel finally lost his mind. He jumped out of the dugout and ripped CB Bucknor a new one, getting him tossed out of the game. But the managerial fireworks sparked the Phils in a big way. Ibanez took the very next pitch to center for an RBI double. Ben Francisco, another bench player, hit a single to score Werth and then Valdez struck again with a bunt that scored Ibanez.
And just like that, the 3-run lead that Lidge blew was back with a 9-6 score. JC Romero was called on for the second save attempt and got the job done without issue. Thank goodness for JC! You are my hero :O) Please tell Lidge that he owes you, big time.
The Phillies will play the Reds again tomorrow with a quick turnaround at 12:35pm. Roy Halladay will pitch and try to sneak the Phils out of town with a series win.
More Injury News
To replace Utley and Polanco, Greg Dobbs was brought back and is clearly still having issues. He had only 2 hits in 17 at-bats during his short time in AAA and went hitless tonight in 3 attempts. Brian Bocock was also added to the roster. At AAA this year, Bocock hit only .177 in 209 at-bats so I cannot imagine he brings much to the table either. But at this point, beggars cannot be choosers. The options are limited.
The Phillies are going to have to rely on their bench players if they are going to contend. They did it in 2007 as Tadahito Iguchi and others filled in admirably for players who went down, like Utley who got hit with a pitch, breaking his hand. Can they do it again in 2010? We shall see.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies ended the season today with a series sweep of the Nationals, winning today’s game by a score of 8-3. This game very much resembled a Spring Training game, as all of the rookies and back-ups got the start. It was a lot of fun as the whole team, having already clinched the Division, was very relaxed and they were all having a good time. Most fans even stuck around after the game to dance, catch prizes from the Phanatic and the ball girls and just revel in the glory of a great season and the Phils’ 2nd consecutive NL East Title. Signed balls, tee shirts and I don’t know what else, flew through the air as the fireworks erupted above. The only question that still lingered was, will it be the Brewers or the Dodgers?
That question was answered shortly after the game as the Brewers won and the Mets, for the second straight year, lost and will again not see the post-season. Another sad collapse for Mets fans; a bright spot for Phillies fans as I think we can all agree that the Brewers will be the better match-up in the playoffs. And so it is; the Phillies will face the Brewers on Wednesday in Philly – Time TBD.
As for today, there were a lot of great moments for the youngsters and back-ups playing; Lou Marson went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI, including hitting his very first Major League home run. What a night for his first start in the Bigs! Right after Marson hit his homer, on the very next pitch, pinch hitter Matt Stairs followed with one of his own! Nice. And the fun continues…So Taguchi looked like the player we all assumed he was at the beginning of the season; he went 3 for 5 with 3 RBI and was great on defense as well. The other “guchi,” Tadahito Iguchi, and Eric Bruntlett each had 2 hits in the game. Jayson Werth pinch hit in the 4th, whacked a single and then followed it up with his 20th steal of the year as he swiped 2nd base. That put him in the 20-20 club with more than 20 homers (24) and 20 stolen bases. Impressive for a guy who was not a starter at the beginning of the year. And then for more pinch hit fun, in the 6th inning Ryan Howard hit a slap-bunt up the 3rd base line to beat the shift and eventually wound up scoring in that inning. If he can do this more often, he may see the Howard defensive shift slowly disappear… And as a side note, Howard managed with that hit to raise his batting average over the .250 mark for the year (.251, to be exact).
Here are some photos from the game…first one is from the pre-game. Many of the Phillies regular starters came out to thank the fans and a few of them spoke. Jimmy Rollins and Brad Lidge were both very eloquent in their speeches. Then, the microphone was passed to Chase Ultey who proceeded to give the world’s fastest “Thank You” ever. All he said was, “You guys have been unbelievable,” and then immediately began to walk off, which prompted this reaction from his teammates:
Funny stuff! The crowd laughed right along with them. Utley, as we know, is a bit speech-shy.
Next photos – Top row: Phanatic & the Mystery Baby Phanatic (from the crowd!) try to hex to opposing pitcher; Eric Bruntlett makes a great play. Bottom row: Bruntlett and Taguchi round the bases; Chris Coste, in a rare appearance at first base, scoops up a dribbler and tags out the runner.
A great end to a great season! Stay tuned for post-game info and coverage!
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