It wasn’t, but the Phils are back in first place and look like they’ve found the just-figure-out-how-to-win gear again. Glad to see it, but the actual games sure are ugly. Last night, for example, the Marlins tied the game up in the eighth when Emilio Bonifacio singled, took second with the help of a miserable decision and throwing error by Werth, was balked to third and scored on a wild pitch.
It was kind like a how-to guide on scoring runs without any actual offensive production. Bonifacio can’t explain how he did if for fear of being kicked out of the magician’s guild for revealing his tricks.
The Phils were charged with a pair of costly errors in the game. Durbin also had to pitch around another miscue in the seventh when Utley threw home when he shouldn’t have, allowing a runner to take third with less than two outs.
The part of the team charged with preventing people from scoring a run on a single isn’t the only area where the Phils have left room for improvement. The starting pitching is suddenly not so hot. The Phils have two quality starts in their last seven games, one of which came from Joe Blanton last night and he didn’t pitch very well. The bullpen didn’t either, allowing three runs on four hits and three walks over 2 2/3 innings to let the Fish back into the game.
What the Phils are doing it hitting. They’ve revamped their lineup for the last two games and scored 15 runs. Victorino and Polanco combined to go 5-for-10 at the top of the order and produced the winning run out for nothing in the bottom of the eighth last night. With two outs and nobody on, the score knotted at 7-7, Victorino singled, stole second and put the Phils ahead when Polanco singled to right. Over the last two games the pair has combined to go 10-for-19 with six runs scored. They aren’t the only ones hitting, either. Howard suddenly has three home runs in his last seven games while Ibanez has gone 5-for-his-last-8 with three extra-base hits and four RBI.
The Phillies are 80-60 on the season after beating the Florida Marlins last night. They have taken over the lead in the NL East and are a half game ahead of the Braves in the division. The Braves are the Wild Card leaders and are a half game ahead of the Giants.
Blanton got the start for the Phillies and went 6 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on six hits and two walks. Four of the hits went for extra-bases, two doubles and two triples. He struck out five.
Logan Morrison doubled to right with one out in the first. Hanley Ramirez was next and grounded out to short with Morrison holding second for the second out. Blanton struck Dan Uggla out looking 1-2 to end the frame.
Mike Stanton lined a double to center with one out in the second. He moved to third when Maybin hit a ball back to the mound for the second out. Blanton walked Brad Davis intentionally to pitch to the pitcher Chris Volstad and got Volstad to ground to third to leave both runners stranded.
Emilio Bonifacio led off the third and bunted for a single. Morrison was next and hit a ball between first and second. Howard fielded it moving to his right, but looked like he couldn’t decide whether to go to first or second. He finally flipped to Blanton covering first, but Blanton and Morrison arrived at the same time and the collision knocked the ball loose. Blanton was charged with an error. It brought Ramirez to the plate with nobody out and men on first and second and Ramirez moved the runners to second an third with a ground out. Uggla followed that with a ground ball to short and Bonifacio scored to tie the game at 1-1 as Morrison held second. Gaby Sanchez lined a single into center and Morrison scored to put Florida up 2-1. Blanton struck Stanton out for the third out.
Maybin started the fourth and blasted a triple off the wall in center field. He came in to score when Davis followed with a ground out to third, putting the Fish up 3-1. Blanton struck out Volstad before Bonifacio tripled to right. Morrison flew to center to leave the runner at third.
Blanton threw a 1-2-3 fifth with Florida’s lead cut to 3-2.
Up 5-3, Blanton struck out Maybin and Davis in a 1-2-3 sixth.
Bonifacio walked on a close 3-1 pitch with one out in the seventh. Bastardo came in to pitch to the lefty Morrison and Morrison ripped a ball into center field for a double. Utley took the throw from Victorino and threw home, but he didn’t have a chance to get Bonifacio. The throw allowed Morrison to go to third. Durbin took over for Bastardo and got Ramirez on a popup to Howard at first with Morrison holding third. Durbin walked Uggla on a 3-2 pitch, bringing Sanchez to the plate with two outs and men on first and third. Sanchez flew to right for the third out.
Utley never should have thrown home, but Durbin got out of it. Getting Ramirez for the second out was huge. Blanton had thrown 101 pitches in the game and Morrison had already doubled off of him. He had set down eight in a row before walking Bonifacio. I thought it was a quick hook at the time, but I think it makes sense given how many pitches he had thrown.
Contreras started the eighth with a 7-4 lead. Stanton lead off and hit a 2-0 pitch out to left. 7-5. Pinch-hitter Chad Tracy went down on a fly ball to center for the first out before Davis doubled to left. Cousins flew to center for the second out and Bonifacio came to the plate with two down and a man on second. He singled into right. Davis held up at third, but Werth made a terrible decision and a worse throw trying to get Davis at third. Davis came in to score on the error and Bonifacio wound up at second. Romero came in to pitch to Morrison and balked as he turned to throw to second to try to pick off Bonifacio. Romero walked Morrison, putting men on first and third. Madson came in to pitch to Ramirez and uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Bonifacio to score (7-7) and Morrison to take second. Ramirez struck out looking 2-2 for the third out.
Not a great inning for the Phils. Contreras faced five hitters, allowing a home run, a double and a single. He came into the game charged with one run over his last 18 appearances.
Romero came in to face one batter. He balked before walking him. In his last four appearances he has faced five batters and walked three of them.
Madson was back to pitch the ninth with an 8-7 lead. He walked Stanton with two outs and Wes Helms hit for the pitcher Jose Veras. Madson struck him out swinging 0-2 to end the game.
Romero and Madson have both pitched two days in a row. That’s a bigger problem for Madson, who made 18 appearances in August and has now appeared in five of the eight games the team has played in September. He threw 19 pitches in this game. Contreras and Durbin each threw 16. Bastardo and Romero were both under five.
The Phillies lineup against righty Chris Volstad went (1) Victorino (2) Polanco (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Rollins (6) Ibanez (7) Werth (8) Ruiz. That’s the same lineup the Phils on Sunday night’s game against righty Anibal Sanchez but with Werth in right and Brown on the bench. Brown was originally in the lineup but was a late scratch with a tight quad. Not a fan of that lineup, 15 runs in the last two games or not. Victorino can’t really lead off and Werth shouldn’t be hitting seventh.
The Phils went in order in the first with Maybin making a memorable play for the third out. Utley hit a high fly ball to center field. Maybin looked like he didn’t read it correctly, breaking back before sprinting in and making a diving catch to retire the side.
Howard led off the second with a double and came in to score when Rollins followed with a single, putting the Phils up 1-0. Ibanez flew to left for the first out before Werth hit a ground ball to short. Ramirez threw Werth out at first with Rollins moving to second. Ruiz was walked intentionally and Blanton struck out swinging 0-2 to leave both men stranded.
The Phils were down 2-1 when they hit in the third. Polanco singled with one out, but Utley and Howard both struck out behind him.
It was 3-1 when they hit in the fourth. Ibanez homered to left with one out, cutting the lead to 3-2. Werth flew to right for the second out before Ruiz doubled down the third base line. Blanton struck out swinging to end the inning.
Victorino led off the fifth and hit a 1-2 pitch out to right to even the score at 3-3. Polanco flew to right and Utley grounded to second before Howard hit one just out to left. 4-3. Rollins singled into center and stole second before Ibanez singled into center. Rollins scored and it was 5-3. Werth grounded to third for the third out.
The Phils went in order in the sixth.
The lead was cut to 5-4 when they hit in the seventh. Polanco led off on a single and took second on a passed ball. He moved to third when Utley grounded to first for the first out. Howard was walked intentionally to put men on first and third and Rollins hit a fly ball to center deep enough for Polanco to tag and score, putting the Phils up 6-4. Ibanez was next and split the gap in right center with a triple. Howard scored. 7-4. Werth flew to left for the third out.
The game was tied at 7-7 when the Phils hit in the eighth. Victorino singled with two outs and stole second. Polanco lined a single into right and Victorino scored, putting the Phillies ahead 8-7. Utley walked before Howard flew to center, leaving both runners stranded.
Victorino was 2-for-5 with a stolen base and an RBI. He did a whole to make the winning run for the Phils, singling with two outs and stealing second. He’s 5-for-10 with a home run and three stolen bases out of the leadoff spot in the last two games.
Polanco 3-for-5 with the game-winning RBI in the bottom of the eighth. He’s 5-for-9 with a walk, a double, a triple and three RBI in the last two days.
Utley 0-for-4 with a walk.
Howard 2-for-4 with a walk, a home run and three RBI. He scored three of the Phillies runs. He’s 7-for-25 with four walks and three home runs over his last seven games (280/379/720).
Rollins was 2-for-3 with two RBI. 3-for-7 out of the five-hole in the last two days.
Ibanez was 3-for-4 with a home run, a triple and three RBI. 5-for-8 with three extra-base hits in the last two days.
Werth was 0-for-4, made an awful throw and left three men on base. He didn’t really get a day off on Sunday, playing in the first game of a double-header.
Ruiz 1-for-3 with a walk.
Cole Hamels (9-10, 3.18) faces lefty Andrew Miller (1-0, 3.60 tonight). Hamels has allowed seven hits and three walks over 15 shutout innings in his last two starts. He’s allowed more than two runs in a start once in his last six outings. Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels have all been fantastic for the Phils since the All-Star break, but Hamels has the best ERA of the three (2.22) and the best ratio of the three (0.94). Miller was called up to the Marlins in late August and has made four appearances since, two of which were starts and both of which were pretty good. Miller threw to a 5.35 ERA in 21 starts in the minors this season and walked 76 in 101 innings. 76?