Together Again, Phillies Sluggers Turn Back Time
After a very unusual start to the 1st inning in last night’s Phillies and Brewers match-up, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard reunited in a way that appeared to turn time back to better days. They went back-to-back with solo home runs and just that quickly, it was like old times again. Ah, together again…
In fact most of this previously lame Phillies squad is back off the DL and as a result, they are starting to turn things around. Last night’s walk-off win was the second in row for the Phillies and also their first comeback win when trailing after 8 innings this season. Prior to this, they were 0-42 when losing after 8 innings.
This game began in a very odd way though. Roy Halladay was not his normal, studley self. He gave up 2 runs in the first inning before Howard and Utley countered with their solo blasts.
Even stranger was what happened to Shane Victorino before those home runs. Ex-Phillies pitcher Randy Wolf hit Victorino in the funny bone with a pitch; because he turned his shoulder to in an attempt to get out of the way, the 1st base umpire apparently got confused and called him out on strikes. Replay showed that Victorino came nowhere near to swinging at the pitch.
Both Victorino, in obvious pain, and manager Charlie Manuel argued his case to no avail. Once again, an idiot umpire would cost the Phillies a base runner and, after the homers, it cost them an extra run. Even worse, Victorino’s hand went numb after the hit to the elbow and he had to be removed from the game. He says he is fine now and should be able to play tonight; the ball just struck a nerve in the wrong place.
The umpire idiocy did not end there either. Howard’s obvious solo shot was initially ruled a double after the ball bounced back onto the field out of the left field flower beds. They had to go to replay to get the call overturned. But it was quite apparent to the naked eye that the ball left the yard. I guess the umpire went temporarily blind; an affliction which seems to be contagious. And all that happened in the first inning.
By the 4th inning, things were getting out of hand as Halladay continued to self-destruct and allowed 4 more runs for a 6-2 Phillies deficit. But for the second day in a row, the bullpen came through and held the score there. And that set up the Phillies 1st comeback win after 8 innings all season long.
With 1 out in the 9th, the Phillies were still 4 runs behind and down to their final 2 outs when suddenly, the clock turned backwards again. The Phillies offense began channeling their 2008 selves. Jimmy Rollins drew a walk followed by a Juan Pierre single. Utley walked; Howard singled in 2 runs; Carlos Ruiz singled in another and Hunter Pence followed with another walk.
With still only 1 out in the inning and a man on third, all the Phillies needed was a sac fly. Most of the year, the Phillies have been unable to accomplish this seemingly routine task. But on this throwback night, Ty Wigginton summoned his inner super-Wigginess and sent a line drive to left which scored pinch-runner Erik Kratz.
And just like that, the Phillies have found themselves on the comeback trail. Like J-Roll said after Sunday’s win, it is time to start streaking…
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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography