The good news for the Phillies on Saturday was two-fold — they had their second walkoff win of the season on Jim Thome‘s ninth inning opposite field solo home run, and according to CSNPhilly.com, Chase Utley is headed back to the Philadelphia area and could be back in the Phillies’ lineup by Wednesday.
Jim Salisbury reports that Utley, who for the first time this weekend played second base on consecutive days, will likely play in one more rehab game with Lehigh Valley — perhaps Tuesday — before joining the Phils.
That is big, big news, especially in the wake of the Phillies taking Game 1 of their final interleague series vs. the Rays in preparation for Sunday’s Cole Hamels-Cliff Lee doubleheader. This is suddenly a sweepable series, as the Phils hold pitching matchup advantages at 1:05 and 6:35 p.m. Sunday. I wrote at the outset of the 10-game homestand vs. the Rockies, Rays and Pirates that an 8-2 mark was necessary, as it would put the Phils back at .500, at 39-39. Wins on Sunday would make the Phils 5-1 with four games waiting vs. Pittsburgh.
But back to Saturday for a second…
- Jonathan Papelbon blew his first save of the season, allowing two two-out runs in the ninth inning after Antonio Bastardo maneuvered his way out of trouble an inning earlier. It was Pap’s first blown save in 18 chances and the first two runs he’s allowed in a save situation.
- Thome hit an opposite-field, line-drive home run off Rays lefthanded fireballer Jake McGee to start the ninth. It was Thome’s first pinch-hit of the season, he was previously 0-for-12. Charlie Manuel thought seeing plenty of pitches in the at-bat helped Thome get his timing, which has clearly been an issue for him in this role. Thome saw eight pitches.
- Jimmy Rollins hit his sixth home run to start the scoring for the Phils. A 2-for-4 afternoon has Rollins all the way up to .263. He began the month batting .239.
- Juan Pierre smacked a no-doubter for his first home run as a Phillie, a three-run shot. Pierre also created a run on the basepaths, when he lined a ball to second that Ben Zobrist missed and hustled the whole way to beat the throw to second. Pierre then stole third and scored on Carlos Ruiz‘ 0-2 bloop hit to right field. Pierre is hitting .328.
- The Phillies’ win, coupled with the Marlins’ loss to the Blue Jays, catapults the Phillies out of last place in the NL East. The Phils are 34-38, 8.5 games behind the Nationals. The Marlins are 33-38, 9.0 back. Miami has lost six straight for the second time this month. The Fish are 4-16 in June.