When the 2011 baseball season comes to a close there is no doubt that we will instantly recall the Wednesday night/ Thursday morning 19-inning marathon vs. the Cincinnati Reds. Those that weren’t man enough to stay up or stay at the park will no doubt stick to their story that they saw the whole game. After getting home from work around the 11th inning I managed to make it to the early morning to catch the ending, a choice I definitely did not regret. Okay so I did fade out a couple times during the 15th and 16th innings but I was awake for the finale!
It has been quite a week in Phillies baseball. Chase Utley finally made his debut on Monday night and second baseman Wilson Valdez pitched an inning of relief in the 19th Wednesday, good enough to secure the win. Valdez’s win marked the first time a position player earned a win in the Major Leagues since Brent Mayne of the Rockies faced the Braves on Aug. 22, 2000.With a 10-4 win Thursday afternoon the Phillies managed to take 3 of 4 from the Reds and currently have the most wins in baseball at 31-19. Still only good enough for a one game division lead ahead of those pesky Fish.
The Phightins’ were no doubt lacking some luster on Thursday morning as they made their way back to the clubhouse. After enduring the longest Phillies game since 1993 the players were back at it for a day game on Thursday afternoon. Coming back with a win instead of a loss no doubt made it so much easier.
"I feel real good," Ruiz said. "I'm surprised with the way I feel. It was fun. We got the win, and that made it even more fun."
The Phillies showed no signs of slowing up as the bats were heard plenty in a 10 run series clinching pounding of the Reds. Just the run support Cliff Lee had been looking for. Lee although giving up four runs did just wanted Charlie needed him to do and lasted eight strong innings to relieve a bullpen in dire need of some rest. An overworked Chooch, who even played some third base in the 19-inning marathon, also got the day off. Jose Contreras, freshly activated, finished out the game for the Phils in the 9th.
After a night where a hitter in Valdez pitched for the win a pitcher in Cliff Lee picked up his bat and contributed two hits for three RBI’s. Lee’s ground-rule double in the 6th broke a 4-4 tie and continued his hot bat by singling in John Mayberry the following inning.
Utley with only his second hit since returning Monday night hit a solo shot and Raul Ibanez, who continues to light up the stat sheet, hit a three-run homerun in the third.
With Utley back in the lineup it seems as if the Phillies offense is getting that spark it desperately needed. Although Utley’s bat is not doing a ton of talking his presence on the field and in the clubhouse have no doubt jump-started a sleeping offense.
The Phightins’ seem to be getting all there ducks in a row as the season heads for the mid-way point. Jose Contreras made his first appearance back with the club today and Shane Victorino will start his rehab in Lakewood on Saturday and is eligible to come off the DL next Friday. With no surgery in the works for Big Joe Blanton the Phillies should see him back on the field in 3-4 weeks.
After the “tough” road the Phillies traveled through they came out even at 10-10 playing 20 games against .500 or better teams. Friday the Phillies will head to Flushing for a three-game weekend series with our favorite laughing stock, the New York Muts.
"Playing the Mets is never easy," Howard said before Thursday’s game. "We are in the middle of a tough series against the Reds and we don't expect anything different against the Mets. We'll take them one at a time and understand that every game will be a challenge."
Howard talking politically correct there. What he meant to say was “After a big series win over the Reds we look forward to an easy sweep up there in Flushing. It’s like taking candy from a baby.”
Friday night fellow Ace Roy Oswalt will face lefty Chris Capuano. Saturday night King Cole Hamels will be looking for his 7th win throwing against Mike Pelfrey. To close out the sweep on Sunday Phillies 5th starter Vance Worley will face lefty Jon Niese.
It is always great to be a Phillies phan and with summer around the corner hittin’ season is in full swing. With a healthy Chase Utley and a team finally getting its pieces back together there is no doubt it will only get phunner.