A Tale Of Two Games In Atlanta
In Friday’s game against the Braves, Cliff Lee had his first bad start of the year. The Phillies gave Lee an early 3-0 lead, which he proceeded to give right back to the Braves.
Shane Victorino later missed a fly ball which glanced off his glove and led to three more runs for a Braves 6-3 lead. In the fifth inning with the bases loaded and one out, Ryan Howard tried to check his swing which turned into a dribbling double play ball to end the threat.
In short, Friday was not a good night for the Phillies. They went on to lose by the 6-3 score, leaving people scratching their heads as three of the Phillies five starters have now each had an awful game in the first week of play.
On Saturday afternoon, Roy Oswalt knew the team was counting on him to turn around their luck. And the offense knew they needed to score some runs. Saturday was a better day for the Phillies.
And if you were a Phillies catcher, it was a great day. Back-up Brian Schneider smacked a two-run homer in the fourth inning, his first home run of the year. With a 3-2 lead in the seventh, John Mayberry Jr. came in to pinch hit for Schneider and then Carlos Ruiz pinch hit for Oswalt. Chooch proceeded to smash a ball to left field with the bases loaded for his first home run and first grand slam of the year.
The slam gave the Phillies a 7-2 lead and they continued to add on after that. Ruiz had another hit and another RBI in the eighth, giving him a career-high five RBI in one game.
As for Oswalt, he left the game after six innings and two runs allowed. He and Roy Halladay are the two Phillies starters who have yet to experience a bad game in 2011. Today, the Phillies went on to get Oswalt his second win of the year by a score of 10-2.
Another bright spot in the Braves series so far has been the bullpen, which continues to hold down the opponent. On Friday, 25-year old Antonio Bastardo allowed just one hit over two innings and then proceeded to strike out the next six batters in order. No ground outs, no pop-ups, all six outs were K’s as Bastardo consistently hit 94mph on the radar gun and located the ball well.
Bastardo’s performance matched a Phillies franchise record as he became only the third Phillies relief pitcher to ever strike out six batters in a row.
Also, Victorino seems to have found his groove as the leadoff man. Today, he went 4-for-5 at the plate with an RBI. Jimmy Rollins had two hits as well and is batting .333 in the 3-hole.
The final game of the Braves series is tomorrow afternoon at 1:35pm. Cole Hamels will need to rebound from his first start where he lasted less than three innings, giving up three runs. If the Phillies win, it will be their third consecutive series win to start the 2011 season.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography