From the Minors to The Moon: Extras Help Phillies to a Win
In a 9-2 win over the Cubs Wednesday night, 6 of those 9 runs were produced by pinch hitters. Many of the “extra” pieces the Phillies picked up over the last few weeks contributed to the win.
Even the starting pitcher sort of came “off the bench.” With no warning, Kyle Kendrick was thrust into the starting role when Vance Worley unexpectedly went on the DL with elbow soreness. Kendrick has had a rough year being pushed and pulled from the bullpen to the rotation and back again. But on this night, he managed to pull a great performance seemingly out of the air.
Kendrick allowed only 1 earned run through 6 innings and did walk anyone. He also had an unearned run on a routine fly ball that Juan Pierre dropped in left field. Luckily, that was the only major blunder for the Phillies that night.
It did not look like Kendrick would get much run support as the Phillies took turns leaving men all over the base paths, especially on third base with less than 2 outs. Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence were the worst offenders with 7 and 5 men left on base, respectively. Victorino did manage 1 RBI though while Pence, again, went hitless.
Freddy Galvis and Carlos Ruiz picked up their teammates, both with 2 hits in the game. Ruiz is making a strong bid for an All-Star spot with his team leading .343 average and many clutch hits.
With a 2-2 tie going into the 7th, the Phillies bench came into play in a big way. In his first Phillies at-bat, Mike Fontenot singled and later in the game, scored a run. Ty Wigginton came off the bench in the 9th and gave the Phillies some breathing room with a 2-run single.
But the big blast came from the Moon Man, Hector Luna, in his first Phillies at-bat. “Luna” means “moon” in several languages, including Latin, Italian and Spanish. And Luna went straight to the moon with his first career grand slam in the 9th, giving the Phillies a huge 7 run lead.
Yet another new Phillie entered into the 9th as well. Raul Valdes pitched the bottom of the inning and nailed down the 9-2 win without any drama. The night before, Jake Diekman made his major league debut and got 4 outs to end the game, also minus the usual bullpen drama. These two guys are at opposite ends of the spectrum: one is a rookie and the other an experienced veteran. But together, they may signal very good news for this weak Phillies pen.
And this win is also very good news as the Phillies finally reach the .500 mark at 19-19 for the first time in weeks. They have not been over .500 since Opening Day. Perhaps they can accomplish that task tonight in Game 2 with the Cubs? Game time is 8:05pm.
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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography