UPDATE, 11:58 pm: Chase Utley has been held back in Philadelphia while the rest of the team makes the trip to Milwaukee for tomorrow’s three-game series. He will have concussion tests tomorrow with team doctors, and a course of action will then be known.
Now THAT is how you sweep a series.
The Phillies downed the Braves 3-2 in walkoff fashion Wednesday, building their NL East lead over Atlanta to a whopping 10.5. With the win, the Phils are 9-6 against the Braves this season.
Remarkably, the Phillies have nine sweeps and have only been swept once, in a brief two-game series in St. Louis. They have a series record of 31-11-3. Teams just don’t do this. They don’t win 70% of their series’.
Roy Oswalt had one of his best starts of the season, carrying a no-hitter into the sixth and finishing with a line of: 7-4-2-4-7. Four walks are too many, but Oswalt still stretched it out to 116 pitches. It wasn’t as if Oswalt was completely wild – 66% of his pitches were strikes, including first pitch strikes to 17 of 29 batters.
Going beyond the box score, Oswalt averaged 92.2 miles per hour on his fastball and induced 14 swings-and-misses. This is a 1.0 mph increase in velocity from his season average, and a swinging strike rate 5% above his 2011 mark.
One of the most satisfying aspects of the sweep was that it required the Phillies to tie the third game late against the inhuman Jonny Venters.
John Mayberry led the eighth off with a single – which should impress Antoinette Nikprelaj – then was bunted over by Wilson Valdez. After Venters struck Shane Victorino out swinging, Placido Polanco jumped on the first pitch for a game-tying RBI single.
It was Venters’ third blown saves in 75 appearances.
Ross Gload pinch-hit and, after succeeding in only two of his last eighteen opportunities, ripped a slider down the first base line to win the game. It was nice to see Gload pull the ball. It was nice to see him again prove his worth.
Bastardo’s eighth started off shaky, with Chipper Jones singling on a 1-2 pitch and Brian McCann walking on four pitches. It looked like it could be another backwards step for Bastardo, who walked two and allowed two runs in his last appearance. But he induced a double play from Dan Uggla and a foulout from Matt Diaz to end the inning.
The Phillies had a scare in the sixth when Chase Utley was hit in the head by lefty Eric O’Flaherty. Utley, perhaps out of it, asked the umpire where the ball hit him. He was later taken out of the game as a precaution.
Charlie Manuel said after the game that Utley would be monitored and, if he can make the trip to Milwaukee tonight he will.
The training staff will be smart with Utley. This is a big series in Milwaukee against the NL’s second-best team, but the Phillies are 8.5 games ahead of the Brewers in the race for homefield advantage. They could get swept and still hold a comfortable lead over Milwaukee.
The Phillies are now an unbelievable 91-48. Looking at their record everyday never gets old.
Anticipating October is cool and all, but don’t forget to soak in every remaining moment of this historic regular season. The Phillies could lose 14 of the remaining 23 games and still finish with 100 wins.