The Phillies had one job to do today: win.
It may only be April, but the Fightins knew they couldn’t come home to Citizens Bank Park with anything less than a big, fat, pinstriped “W,” especially with the red-hot Mets coming to town, and they avoided their first sweep of the season with the most topsy-turvy victory they could possibly muster.
Going into today’s game the Phillies were 3-5 on this road trip having batted a sub par .234 with just four home runs between them (three of which were of the Jayson Werth variety). Surely going up against Tim Lincecum for the series finale wasn’t going to result in the offensive boom the team had been missing as of late.
Lincecum (4-0, 1.02 ERA) vs. Hamels (2-2, 5.28 ERA) turned out to be the pitchers dual everyone had hoped for – at least for the first five innings.
Lincecum cruised thru his first twelve batters before Ryan Howard smoked his fourth home run of the season putting the Phillies up 1-0 in the top of the 5th. It didn’t take long for the Giants to strike back, though, when Schierholtz singled to center and was moved up to second on a sacrifice by Lincecum, and was driven all the way home on a double by Torres. Tie ballgame.
What was most impressive was Cole Hamels only giving up one infield single after the Giants burst onto the scoreboard before retiring the next two batters to get himself out of the inning completely melt-down free. Things began to unravel in the sixth, though. Molina singled followed by a double by Matt Downs with one out in the inning. In probably the second most controversial move of the game, the Phillies decided to intentionally walk Schierholtz to load the bases for Tim Lincecum who eventually struck out looking. Just when it seemed like their master plan was working, Hamels walked in the go-ahead run and gave up a 2-run single to Renteria before getting Pablo Sandoval to fly out to center and end the inning. Hamels would not return for the seventh and ended his day at 6 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 4 BB, and 10 SO on 113 pitches (67 for strikes).
Lincecum went back to work before he was pulled after issuing his first walk of the game in the top of the 9th. He would end his day with 8.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, and 11 SO on 106 pitches (72 for stikes). All reliever Brian Wilson had to do was get two outs – two measly little outs – and the Phillies would have been swept for the first time in 2010.
But Jayson Werth had other plans. With the bases loaded, two outs, and a 3-2 count, Werth doubled to right scoring Victorino, Utley and Howard knotting the ballgame up at 4 apiece.
The 10th inning could have been much worse for the Giants pitching staff than it actually wound up being. Affeldt led off by plunking Schneider (who had taken over for Chooch), allowed a single to Victorino, and then threw a wild pitch which Schneider was able to score on, giving the Phillies a 5-4 lead. Madson (BS, 2; W, 1-0; 7.00 ERA) would take the mound to close it out for the Phils but almost immediately handed the tieing run right back to San Francisco. Although he blew the save, Madson managed on not blowing the entire game and getting out of the inning so the Philadelphia Lumber Co. could get back to work and try to win this thing – again.
Ibanez led off the top of the 11th with a single and was moved over to second on a sac bunt by Ben Francisco. Wilson Valdez singled, scoring Ibanez. Just when everyone thought the Phillies were going to be heading to the bottom of the 11th with yet another 1-run lead, Eugenio Valdez erred on a 2-out fly ball off Victorino’s bat giving Wilson the chance to score and thus adding a little insurance heading into the second half of the inning.
It’s a good thing they lucked out with that extra run, too. Nelson Figueroa (S, 1; 3.38 ERA) was on the hill and allowed a single each to Molina and Uribe, and wound up with a runner on third with one out due to a throwing error by Ryan Howard. On yet another hit by Schierholtz the Giants scored and were threatening until Eugenio Valdez grounded into a fielder’s choice which resulted in an outstanding display of defense at the plate by Schenider to prevent the tieing run from scoring again. The Phillies could breathe again one batter later when the game finally came to an end three hours and thirty-six minutes after the first pitch, winning with a score of 7-6.
Many things could have gone very differently at any given moment in this game. If the Giants had left Lincecum in for the remainder of the ninth would Jayson Werth have that 3-run game-tying double? If the Phillies had not intentionally walked Schierholtz would Cole have been able to get through the sixth unscathed? If Eugenio Valdez hadn’t misplayed the ball from Victorino would we still be sitting in front of our TVs watching and waiting for a winner to emerge right now?
No one will know what may have been, but the Phillies seemed to have remembered how to use their bats today which is exactly what they needed going into the series against the Mets that is set to begin on Friday at 7:05 with Kendrick (0-0, 7.71 ERA) going up against Jon Niese (0-1, 3.68 ERA).
Filed under: Game Review | Tagged: Bengie Molina, blown save, Brian Wilson, Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, Eugenio Valdez, Jayson Werth, Nelson Figueroa, Ryan Howard, Ryan Madson, San Francisco Giants, Schierholtz, Schneider, Tim Lincecum |