Shane Victorino's Grand Slam Lifts Phillies To 2-0 Series Lead
It was billed as a high-powered pitching match-up between the Phillies' Brett Myers and Brewers ace CC Sabathia, who was baseball's best pitcher in the second half. However, it was apparent early that these two would have a lot to contend with, not least of which being their poor control.
After sitting down Brewers leadoff man Mike Cameron on three straight fastballs in the top of the first, Myers suddenly lost his touch. He walked Ray Durham on four pitches before leaving a fastball right down the middle of the plate to Ryan Braun, who promptly smoked it to left field for a double. An intentional walk to Prince Fielder followed, and just like that, the Brewers had the bases loaded with one out.
The next batter was J.J. Hardy. Unfortunately, Myers still didn't have his command and walked Hardy to force in a run. The Brewers had already taken a 1-0 lead with all-star right fielder Corey Hart coming to the dish and the bases still loaded.
At this point, things were already looking bad for the Phillies. If the Brewers capitalized and turned the situation into a big inning, it would be a huge uphill for the Phillies, having to face Sabathia.
What followed would be Myers' biggest pitch of the game. He used an 87-mph slider to get Hart to ground back to the mound for a 1-2-3 double play, ending the Brewer threat.
In the bottom of the first, Victorino hit a one-out double and stole third on the next pitch. However, neither Utley or Howard could put the ball in play, and Sabathia sat them both down swinging. From these two at-bats alone, it became clear that the right-handed batters for the Phillies would have to carry the offense today.
Myers regained his control in the second inning, retiring the Brewers in order. He would continue this form for the rest of the game, allowing just one hit and one run after the first.
The inning that won the game for the Phillies was the bottom of the second. As in game one, when they scored all three of their runs in a single inning, the second inning of game two is where all of the Phillies scoring would come from.
With one out, Jayson Werth, who had been moved down in the order from second to sixth following game one, doubled into the left-centerfield gap. Third baseman Pedro Feliz didn't waste the opportunity, as he immediately doubled down the leftfield line to plate Werth, tying the score at one.
With the bottom of the order coming up, it looked like that's where the scoring would end. Carlos Ruiz grounded out to first, bringing up Brett Myers, owner of a .069 batting average this season.
Myers took two big hacks on the first two pitches and immediately fell behind 0-2 in the count. That was the beginning of the biggest at-bat of the game. From there, Sabathia lost his control, struggling to find the strike zone. Myers didn't help him, either, fouling off a tough slider and two 97-mph fastballs. When all was said and done, Myers had drawn a nine-pitch walk, not only giving the top of the order a chance to hit, but severely driving up Sabathia's pitch count.
Jimmy Rollins also walked, this time on four straight pitches, as it was apparent Sabathia had lost his control, and the five consecutive starts on short rest was possibly catching up to him.
The big blow came next, as Shane Victorino, whom manager Charlie Manuel has shrewdly moved up to the two-hole for game two, launched a 1-2 slider into the leftfield seats for his first career grand slam, giving the Phillies a 5-1 lead.
For the rest of the game, Myers continued the dominant form he had displayed in the second, leaving after seven having allowed only two runs on two hits and three walks. In his last two starts against the Brewers, he has allowed three earned runs and only four hits in 16 inning pitched.
The Phillies would add five more hits over their final six at-bats, but would not score again. In the ninth, Brad Lidge retired the side in order for his second save in as many days.
Victorino, for the game-winning grand slam, is the obvious choice for player of the game. However, Brett Myers' role in the victory should not be forgotten, as he pitched a great game, and his epic nine pitch walk in the second allowed Victorino to come to the plate in the first place.
Postscript: This is actual text from my Game Two Preview, written on Wednesday night.
I'm not going to make a prediction on this game, but with these pitchers and the powerful line-ups they're facing, I will say that I don't think there will be a lot of runs manufactured. Most likely, this game will come down to one or two timely big hits, possibly home runs, that will sway the momentum one way or the other."
Pretty accurate, huh?
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