Even with an 0 for 5 return it was very evident what Chase Utley brings to this team. After scoring a total of nine runs in the last six games combined the Phillies went off on Bronson Arroyo and the Reds for an action packed 10-3 victory Monday night at the Bank. The adrenaline that ran through 45,841 phans strong, a Citizens Bank Park attendance record, when #26 was first announced seemed to be running through the clubhouse as well. With Utley back in the building the Phillies bats came alive in a big way.
"I don't know if it was [Utley's] presence or not, but somebody did something right," manager Charlie Manuel said. "So we'll give him credit, all right?"
The Phillies scored more than 3 runs for the first time since May 13th and their 14 hits were the most hits since they put up 15 versus the Braves on April 9th!
Five Phillies starters hit 2 or more hits with four players contributing 2 or more RBI’s. J-Roll was 2-5 with 3 RBI’s and 2 runs scored. Every starter except for Utley had a hit including Cole Hamels. Polanco, Ibanez, and Rollins all went yard.
The runs came quick and often in the 3rd inning as the Phightins’ roughed up one of the better Reds starters with a seven run third. The most RBI’s the Phillies have had in one inning all year. Arroyo was so bad through 2 2/3 his ERA jumped from 4.11 to 5.28. J-Roll finished off the scoring with a three-run shot of his own. The Phillies even left some runs on the board with a clear blown call on Chooch at home plate and a no tag for Howard on a fly ball to left.
Despite one lone hiccup allowing a three-run shot to Jay Bruce, Hamels pitched notably only allowing 5 hits and with 4 k’s through 6 innings, even providing an RBI from the plate. On a of recent “normal” night for the Phillies offense the three runs allowed might have cost the Phillies the game but last night was not your normal game.
Utley jerseys were everywhere as the record sellout crowd filled the park on a cloudy, humid Dollar Dog night. Dan Baker addressed the crowd making his way to the number 2-hole in the lineup occupied by “Number 26 Chase Utley”! Not a single man, woman, or child was left sitting as the Bank erupted in rejoiced celebration. As Utley made his way to the plate for his first at bat in the bottom of the 1st the 45,841 phanatical phans were even louder. It was the most anticipated return since Clifton Phifer made his re-debut in a Phillies uniform on April 2nd. The energy in the building was enough to jumpstart a……..let’s say dormant offense? Well it worked!
Leadership is something in sports that is often behind the scenes, especially with a guy like Chase who is not one to vocalize his role. He does it by his work ethic, his toughness, his hustle, and his demeanor. He is a man who is all about his business and even on a hitless night his presence alone proved his worth. He is the clear cut leader on the team and players such as Doc Halladay are quick to point that out.
With Utley’s return in question since early April it was amazing to see an all too familiar face at second base. It was a night that every Phillies phan had been hoping for since Opening Day. Utley worked his butt off and deservingly so probably got back sooner than any other player in baseball could.
"I put in a lot of hard work over the last few months to get to this point," Utley said following the win. "Obviously, I would have liked to be in there a little earlier, but it is what it is. I was just happy to be out there."
So with the state of baseball returning to somewhat normalcy in South Philly it was only fitting that the Phillies lit up the scoreboard to welcome back their fearless leader. Just the jolt of energy a struggling offense needed.