With “Heavy B” on the mound, how can one doubt that the Philadelphia Phillies would come out victorious against the Los Angeles Dodgers? Okay, Joe Blanton wasn’t spotless—he gave up three runs—but he wasn’t a duplicate of October-Jamie Moyer.
Phillies pitching was a bit frightening. As Chad Durbin threw to his three batters, I thought to myself, “If I knew the 2007 Phillies bullpen was pitching tonight, I would’ve bought some ice cream to feed my frustrations.”
Luckily, Ryan Madson, J.C. Romero, and Brad Lidge saved me from gaining five pounds.
The big story tonight, however, was the rally in the top of eighth, led by Shane Victorino and Matt Stairs. Victorino has been the driving force of this offense of late. Although it’s not surprising, it wasn’t expected.
After the Flyin’ Hawaiian’s two-run home run tied the game, three batters later, Stairs hit a magnificent homer that silenced the crowd, while giving the Phillies the two runs they needed to win the game.
It’s no secret that the Phillies are a home-run hitting team. Say it’s their ballpark, but in their last win in Citizens Bank Park, they scored seven runs—not one home run. Tonight, in Game Four of the NLCS, the long ball won the game, but while that took center stage, one can’t ignore the performances that took place earlier in the game.
Philadelphia still seems to be too anxious at the plate. The big hitters aren’t producing to their abilities. The top three hitters, Jimmy Rollins, Jayson Werth, and Chase Utley, struck out a total five times. The only other Phillies player to strike out was the pitcher, Blanton.
Along with the offense, the defense showed some weakness—namely first baseman Ryan Howard and left fielder Pat Burrell. Howard had all the time in the world and still managed to throw wide to Utley, who was covering first. Not only did a run score, but the easy out turned into a situation with runners on second and third with no outs.
No to be outdone, Burrell decided to spotlight his arm by missing the cutoff man. Shall we bring Tom Hanks out to explain in a slow, patient voice that he must hit the cutoff man? Oh Pat Burrell, a nice derrière can’t excuse you from everything.
It’s exciting to see the team succeed, but it’s hard to overlook the fact that they are not playing to their full capabilities. But, when it’s over, a win is a win, no matter how ugly.
Six games down, five to go.
Non-baseball baseball notes
High-socks watch: One reason Joe Blanton ranks high with me is his dedication to the high socks. Keep it up, big guy!
You can quote him on that: Matt Stairs named his home run tonight as the biggest pinch-hit homer of his career: “Not that I don't feel like I'm part of the team, by no means, but when you get that nice celebration coming into the dugout and you're getting your ass hammered by guys, it's no better feeling than to have that done. It's definitely the top pinch-hit home run of my career.”
If I was an immature person, I would take one of those sentences out of that quote and giggle about it all day.
He said it: Shane Victorino explains his attitude on the field and, in turn, illustrates why (I feel) he’s thriving: “I like having fun. And I think that a lot of people know it. Everybody is always saying why are you always smiling, yada, yada, yada. I'm having fun. To have the opportunity to come out here every day, it's a lifelong dream and lifelong goal. To get an opportunity now just takes me one step closer to my ultimate goal.”
I would love to interview Victorino. He has so many verbal tics—I love it!