GAME 1: Phillies Win Behind a Strong Effort from Kendrick, 8-1
Elih Villanueva didn’t stand a chance. On a bright, beautiful afternoon, Wilson Valdez and Jimmy Rollins helped torch the poor kid – just up from the minor leagues, and just as quickly back down – in the Phillies 8-1 win. The 42nd win of the year put the Phillies up four in the division and 16 games over .500.
In the game-changing third inning, Villanueva was told to walk Ben Francisco to load the bases for the double play-making Valdez. Instead of a 6-4-3, Valdez plated three as he smoked a ball to deep left-center field, just between the converging Logan Morrison and Chris Coghlan. The two outfielders collided, Valdez made his way to third, and the Phillies had busted open a 5-1 lead. Three batters later, Jimmy Rollins would launch a home run to right field, extending the lead to 8-1.
In the process, Rollins would make me look rather idiotic.
Piggybacking the success of the offense, Kyle Kendrick scuffled in the first inning, but turned it around quickly thereafter. From the second inning until the seventh, he retired 14 of 15 batters, with the only baserunner reaching on an error by Domonic Brown. Kendrick is quietly having a solid season, both as a starter and reliever. A funny stat: Kendrick is now 4-4 with a 3.14 ERA, while Roy Oswalt is also 4-4 with a 3.12 ERA.
We’re quick to come down hard on Kendrick, but he’s been relatively solid, doing whatever is asked of him this season.
Don’t look now, but the Phillies bats are pretty warm. Thirty-five runs in the past five games is a swift turnaround from what has been the norm this year. For those who can count, that’s seven runs a game – they’re averaging just under 4.2 through 68 games. That puts them right in the middle of the back in the majors. But as we saw after Game 1 of the double-dip, the potential is there for some big production.
GAME 2: Chooch Walks it Off in 10th
Where to begin. Someday, things don’t really go as planned. Roles were reversed from day to night during the doubleheader. Kyle Kendrick shut down the Marlins in the opener and Roy Halladay was (sort of) the opposite, giving up four runs over seven innings. Again, the offense picked up the starting pitcher.
Down 4-2 in the ninth, Carlos Ruiz and Ross Gload both singled with one out to put two runners on base. Jimmy Rollins then absolutely smoked a ball off the leg of Marlins closer Leo Nunez, but it ricocheted to first baseman Gaby Sanchez for out number two. Ruiz and Michael Martinez – in as a pinch-runner for Gload – moved up a base, bringing Shane Victorino to the dish. He smoked a pitch up the middle, scoring the two, tying the game, and bringing back memories of ’07, ’08, and ’09.
After a scoreless top of the 10th pitched by Ryan Madson, Carlos Ruiz played Mr. Clutch again, singling home Ryan Howard, who had reached base after being hit by a pitch. Phillies 5, Marlins 4.
Things looked bleak early on as Halladay allowed two quick runs in the first. A tight strike zone may have been the indirect cause of those two tallies by the Marlins, as Halladay looked to have punched Chris Coghlan out. Home plate umpire Jim Wolf called strike three a ball and Coghlan went on to ground out, moving Hanley Ramirez from second to third. So instead of two outs with a runner on second, the scenario changed and Ramirez would score one batter later on a ground out by Logan Morrison. With the extra out to play with, Gaby Sanchez then launched a long homer to left-center field. Just like that, one pitch changed the direction of the inning and Marlins led 2-0.
Halladay would settle down until the fourth, when John Buck looped a ball just out of the reach of Rollins and into center field, scoring two more. Other than a couple of mistakes, Halladay was very good, striking out eight without walking a batter. He definitely induced plenty of contact, which the free-swinging Marlins took advantage of.
But the name of the game is keeping your team in the game, and Doc did that. Bob Ford of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweeted an excellent stat: the Phillies are 3-0 in Halladay’s no-decision’s this season. So while he was unable to get a win out of it, it was tight enough in the end for the comeback kids to strike once again. With the second win of the day, the Phils are now 17 over .500.
It’s gettin’ fun around here again, isn’t it?