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Phillies 9, Astros 4
Game 2 of the Phillies' young season saw a bit more of an offensive attack to back ace No. 2, Cliff Lee.
The Phillies started early with three consecutive singles (Polanco, Rollins, Howard) which scored one run. With one out and a “productive out RBI situation” staring him in the face, Ben Francisco couldn’t put the ball in play and struck out.
With the first of many two-out RBI situations at hand, Raul Ibanez was able to hit an opposite field double, scoring Rollins from second. Howard was not able to make it home from first, however, and would be stranded there when Carlos Ruiz flied out to left.
In the fourth, Angel Sanchez led off with the first Astros hit of the night and was quickly tripled home by Carlos Lee. It was the first of Carlos Lee’s four RBI, which accounted for all of Houston’s scoring.
Francisco and Shane Victorino collided on the triple and Victorino would later leave the game with what seems to be a very minor injury (he would single in two runs prior to leaving the game). Lee was stranded at third when Cliff Lee struck out Bill Hall and got Chris Johnson to ground weakly back to the mound.
The Phillies quickly got that run back plus one more in the home half of the fourth. After Ibanez worked a walk in a nice at-bat and Ruiz was hit by a pitch, Wilson Valdez quickly struck out.
Cliff Lee then laid down a very nice bunt, moving Ibanez and Ruiz to second and third. Shane Victorino stepped in with two outs in an RBI situation and singled on a soft fly to right field that was just out of the reach of right-fielder Hunter Pence. Both Ibanez and Ruiz scored.
The game was broken open in the fifth when Howard singled, Francisco doubled and Ibanez singled in succession. Ibanez was able to advance to second on a groundout by Ruiz and score on a single by Valdez, bringing the run count for the inning to three.
In the sixth, Angel Sanchez singled again off Lee. He was able to score two batters later when Carlos Lee homered to left-center.
Lee would go on to finish the seventh and had a fairly impressive line with 11 strikeouts, 4 hits and 3 runs. All four hits were by two players, Angel Sanchez and Carlos Lee. It’s worth noting that Sanchez is filling in for the injured Clint Barmes and is 4-for-8 against Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay, two of baseball’s best pitchers.
The Phillies were able to manufacture another run in the seventh when Ibanez walked again and Ruiz doubled him home.
Danys Baez was victimized by a Placido Polanco throwing error that should have ended the top of the eighth. The Astros would go on to squeak out a run from it.
The Phillies got one more two-out run when Francisco singled home Polanco from second. Prior to Francisco’s at-bat, Jimmy Rollins smoked a line drive right into the gut of relief pitcher Fulchino, who was able to briefly recover and throw Rollins out. I was there and it looked painful.
Jose Contreras came in for the ninth in a non-save situation. He gave up two hits, no runs and garnered two strike outs to end the game.
The Phillies really "nickel and dimed" the Astros tonight, scoring in six of their eight at bats. They had quite a few two-out RBI, which are the toughest RBI to get. They had a total of 14 hits (11 singles and 3 doubles).
After going 0-4 in the opener, Ibanez was able to go 2-for-3 with 2 walks and a double, 3 runs scored and 2 RBI. Also 0-for-4 yesterday, Polanco went 3-for-5 with two runs scored. Howard and Francisco were both 2-for-5. Every starter (except Cliff Lee) had at least one hit.
For most of the Astros, Cliff Lee was just too much to handle. Carlos Lee and Angel Sanchez seemed unfazed by Lee’s stuff, though. The Astros totaled eight hits for the game, but five were by Sanchez and Lee. Michael Bourne struck out three times and never saw the bases. Wandy Rodriguez finished four innings and has a 15.75 ERA to start the year.