I’m sorry folks, I think I jinxed this one. With former Phillie Jim Thome at the plate in the ninth inning with the Phillies up by five runs, I said to my dad and brother, “I wouldn’t mind if he hit a home run right here. We would still be up by three and I don’t see us losing this game.
"Plus, I kinda want Thome to have more homers than that lying steroid user Rafael Palmeiro.”
That was the first time I have ever rooted for a non-Philadelphia sports player when playing a Philly sports team, and I will NEVER do that again. Why? Well, after Thome launched his two-run bomb that I predicted, the Phillies bullpen decided to make me look like a fool.
With a 9-6 lead, the Phillies were still in a comfortable save situation, but some more poor pitching by Jose Contreras led to another run, and with the score now at 9-7 Brad Lidge was called upon. This season Brad hasn’t been used too much, but he had appeared to be over his season long slump this season, going 4/4 in save opportunities with an ERA under 2.00.
Unfortunately, 2009 Lidge showed up today. With two outs and a man on, Joe Mauer came to the plate. Lidge, who was relying on his slider, left one up over the plate and Mauer completed a dreadful top of the ninth by tying the game with a blast to right center field. It’s safe to say that I and the 45,000+ fans in Citizen’s Bank Park were stunned.
In the 10th, more trouble ensued. Chad Durbin came into the game and allowed a home run to Drew Butera, an unlikely hero considering he was the one who caught Thome’s home run ball while sitting in the Twins’ bullpen.
In the bottom of the inning the Phillies looked like all hope was lost when their first two batters got out very quickly, leaving the game in the hands of pinch-hitter Ross Gload.
Gload, a signing that I didn’t really like, has had an unremarkable season so far off the bench. I felt good about him coming to the plate though, because weirdly enough the last two times I have actually watched him bat he has hit home runs (the last time was in person when Roy Halladay got roughed up against the Red Sox).
Anyway, Gload took a low pitch and hit a scorching line drive just fair and just above the wall along the right field line to tie the game at 10.
When Danys Baez toed the mound to start the 11th inning, I turned off the television because I didn’t want to watch. Don’t ask me how the Twins scored the three runs to take a 13-10 lead because I didn’t have to watch to know what would happen.
As I have been saying since the offseason, I can’t believe we signed Baez and it is unbelievable to me that he hasn’t been designated for assignment yet. It’s only been about 30 min since the 11th inning; he should be released by now. In four of Baez’s last five outings he has let up at least one run. My friends and I have gotten used to seeing Baez come into a game and we would take bets on how many runs he would allow.
Amazingly enough, last time we did this was during another Cole Hamels start when Cole went seven strong innings and left with the Phillies down 2-0. Let’s just say when Baez came in the score wasn’t 2-0 anymore. Anyway, enough with the Baez bashing, but seriously—the guy needs to go.
Even though the Phillies blew a chance to gain a game on the Mets, who lost today, there were many positives today. Chase Utley definitely looks like he is out of his slump, going 3-5 with three RBI today and 2-5 with four RBI yesterday. In his last 24 games before these two, he was batting .174 with three total RBI, so it’s good to see him back.
The Phillies, as a whole, have been hitting great in their last four games and seem to have gotten out of the offensive funk that they’ve been in all month. Taking two of three from the Yankees and the first game in this series while scoring in bunches shows that the Phillies have that swagger back, at least on offense.
Ryan Howard had one of the best games that I’ve ever seen him play yesterday, going 4-4 with two HR and was a single short of the cycle (he also added a home run today). Jayson Werth has been batting over .300 in the last week and seems to have found his swing, hitting a home run today. Raul Ibanez even is hitting well, crushing a ball to deep right-center field today.
All in all, it seems like the 2010 Phillies have reverted back to the 2009 Phillies, but with better starting pitching. The offense is back to their run scoring ways, and even though it’s only been four games, you can tell that they are taking better swings and look more in control at the plate.
The bullpen seems to be back to its unpredictable self, so we have to hope that Ryan Madson can come back soon and pray Danys Baez is on a plane to somewhere far from the Phillies pitcher’s mound.
The one difference with both seasons, the Braves and Mets are much improved, as is our starting pitching. Halladay has been what Cliff Lee was, but even more so. Hamels looked great today after the first, and he was solid in his last start, so he looks like he has confidence back.
Hopefully J.A. Happ can come back and contribute, but if not, Kyle Kendrick has been excellent. Moyer and Blanton have been Jekyll and Hyde on the mound, but you’re bound to see that with a 47-year-old pitcher.
Unfortunately, the ending of today’s game flat out sucked, but the team has its swagger back.Let’s hope the ninth inning didn’t put out the spark that the Phillies just lit.