On the verge of being swept in Boston, the Phillies would rely today on the arm of Cole Hamels. Much improved since last season, Hamels did not let his team down. Hamels pitched 7 strong innings against the Red Sox allowing just one run on 5 hits and 2 walks. Normally, Hamels fastball clocks in around 88-92mph but today, he was topping out at 96mph. The extra kick helped and he left the mound with his team in a good position to win the game.
But the Phillies offense would have to face knuckleballer Tim Wakefield again, who beat them up badly in Philly last month. Wakefield is an otherwise mediocre pitcher, but he certainly has the Phillies number. In the first inning, the Phils offensive woes continued as they loaded the bases with no outs but did not score. Ryan Howard hit a fly ball but Shane Victorino decided it was too close to tag and stayed at third. Then Jayson Werth hit into a double play to end the threat. Werth would later drop a fly ball in the outfield, adding to his woes.
In the 4th inning though, it looked like the Phils may have figured Wakefield out. They scored 4 runs on 2 doubles, 2 singles and a Raul Ibanez homer. But again, another double play, this time from Carlos Ruiz, ended the inning. The Phillies have certainly figured out how to shoot themselves in the foot recently.
Lucky for them, Hamels was spectacular and they went into the 8th inning with a 4-1 lead. Jose Contreras held the Sox down in the 8th, despite allowing 2 singles. In the 9th, Werth redeemed himself by walking and then stealing 2 bases. A sac fly from Ben Francisco scored Werth and gave the Phils a 5-1 lead.
But in their usual fashion, the Phillies made the 9th inning an adventure in a game they desperately needed to win. JC Romero gave up a double and later, Ruiz let a pitch sail past him to score a run for the Sox. Now in a save situation, Brad Lidge was brought in to finish the job. Lidge gave everyone a heart attack when he allowed another run, but did finally get out of the jam and save the game. The Phillies win, 5-3.
While the win today is a huge relief for the fast falling Phils, what ails them is clearly not past. The offense still sputtered in many situations where they should have scored and the bullpen began to look shaky again. Monday will be an off-day while the Phillies try to screw their heads on right before a 3-game series with their World Series rivals, the New York Yankees. Otherwise, the Yanks are going to feast on the failing Phils. Cross your fingers…
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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
With a 3-8 loss to the Red Sox, it was a bad day all around for Phillies fans. First, two of the stars from the movie “The Hangover” were supposed to throw out first pitches, but I guess it got bumped due to time constraints after the rain clean-up and tarp removal. And I really, really wanted a picture of Bradley Cooper. A sad day for women everywhere…
Next, the curse of the Phillies and Interleague play continued… Roy Halladay had a very, very bad day. Worries about his being overworked in his last outing, throwing 132 pitches, are beginning to look justified. Todd Zolecki reported that due to the increased work load, Halladay actually adjusted his routine between starts. Anytime a pitcher is thrown off his usual routine, something is wrong.
And that something is that Halladay is being used and abused and it finally caught up to him. He had given up just 1 run going into the 4th inning but that is where the game took a serious turn for the worse. With the bases loaded and one out, Greg Dobbs missed a ball that looked like a routine double play ball. Instead, it trickled into the outfield and 2 runs scored.
Knowing that would have gotten him out of the jam, Halladay was visibly upset and had to be calmed by pitching coach, Rich Dubee. It all went downhill from there. Halladay ended the game with 7 runs, 6 of them earned, in just 5 2/3 innings. The defense did not help him out as witnessed by the Dobbs blunder and check out this miss, which Shane Victorino almost caught:
By the way, this begs the question, why was Dobbs playing third with a sinker ball pitcher on the mound? There is way too much action at 3rd in this situation and, as a bench player, Dobbs does not get much practice. Placido Polanco could have taken a day off when either Joe Blanton or Cole Hamels were going to pitch. The move made no sense and it cost the Phillies.
What also cost them was the lack of offense…again. The Sox pitcher, Tim Wakefield, had not thrown a shut-out since 1997. But today, it looked like it may happen as he went 8 scoreless innings. The Phillies made this 43-year old pitcher look like a spring chicken.
Once Wakefield was pulled, the Phillies managed to squeak out 3 runs in the 9th with a Ross Gload 2-run homer and doubles from Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez. Here are a few more game shots:
Here is the full Photo Album from today’s game which includes these shots and more.
So the Phillies will be holding their annual Phillies Phestival tomorrow and I will report back on those events sometime on Tuesday. After the Phestival, they hit the road and start a series with the Mets at 7:10pm on Tuesday night.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography