For most of the game, opening day looked like it was going to be about what the Phillies used to be. Used to be able to score. Used to be Chase Utley. Used to be Brett Myers. Used to be Michael Bourn.
Then, all of the sudden, the Phils made sure it wasn’t about anything except what they are right now. Down 4-2 in the bottom of the ninth, the offense that had been painfully silent all day roared to life. They pounded out six hits in the inning to plate three runs, winning 5-4 when pinch-hitter John Mayberry drove a ball over the Houston center fielder’s head with one out, the bases loaded and the score tied.
The rally will do a world of good for fans who worry the Phils are a team with great starting pitching, but big questions in the lineup, bullpen and on their bench. Cause even if they looked like exactly that for most of the opener, they looked like something better before it was over.
The Phillies are 1-0 on the year after beating the Houston Astros 5-4 this afternoon.
Halladay got the start for the Phils and went six innings, allowing a run on five hits. One of the hits went for extra-bases, a double. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out six.
He threw a 1-2-3 first, getting Michael Bourn on a fly ball to center, striking Angel Sanchez out looking and Hunter Pence swinging.
Halladay struck Carlos Lee out swinging 1-2 for the first out in the second. Bill Hall hit an 0-1 pitch towards short, but Rollins took it moving to his left and threw to first for the second out. Chris Johnson struck out swinging 1-2 to set Houston down.
Four strikeouts for Halladay through two innings. He had thrown 25 pitches.
Brett Wallace chopped a ball between short and third that Polanco handled for the first out of the third. Humberto Quintero was next and got ahead 3-0, but Halladay came back and struck him out swinging for the second out. Pitcher Brett Myers was next and delivered a solid single up the middle for the first base runner of the game for Houston. Bourn followed and hit a ball hard, but Howard snared it at first for the third out.
There goes the no-no. Halladay was up to 42 pitches after three frames.
Sanchez started the second and bounced a ball back up the middle and over second base for a single. Sanchez was running with the pitch as Pence grounded to short. Rollins took it, thought about going to second, but threw to first for the first out. Lee was next with one down and a man on first and flew to center for the second out with Sanchez holding second. Hall hit a ball well to left, but Ibanez tracked it down near the wall after a long run to keep Houston off the board.
Sanchez running keeps the Astros out of the double-play. Nice play by Ibanez to end the inning with a man in scoring position.
Halladay struck out Johnson again to start the fifth. Wallace popped to Valdez at second for the second out. Quintero was next and hit a ball to right that Francisco should have handled, but muffed for a two-base error. Myers was next and singled again, this time to right with Quintero moving to third. Bourn flew to right to leave both runners stranded.
Three hits in the game for Houston, two of which came from the pitcher Myers. You want to avoid the two-base error in scoreless games whenever you can.
Sanchez started the sixth and hit a ball off of Halladay that went to Valdez. Valdez just missed it and Sanchez was safe at first with an infield single. Pence was next and doubled off the wall in right. Sanchez was going to try to score, but the Phils got a strong relay from Valdez and Sanchez held third. Halladay got Lee to pop to second for the first out and Hall came to the plate with one out and men on second and third. Halladay got ahead of Hall 0-2, but Hall grounded a 1-2 pitch to second for the second out with Sanchez scoring from third to put Houston up 1-0 and Pence moving to third. Johnson flew to left for the third out.
Nice throw by Valdez on the Pence double, but the run winds up scoring anyway. The Phils could have kept the run off the board if they had made the play on the ball that Sanchez hit. Halladay had thrown 101 pitches through six innings and wouldn’t return for the seventh after Pete Orr hit for him in the bottom of the sixth.
Romero started the seventh with the Phils still down a run. The lefty Wallace led off with a single to right and that was it for Romero. Manuel brought righty Herndon to pitch to the righty Quintero. Quintero lined a ball that dropped in front of Francisco in right. Wallace didn’t know what it was going to do and Francisco nearly threw him out at second. But not quite. Myers, 2-for-2 on the day and having thrown just 58 pitches through six innings, hit for himself and bunted to first. Howard might have had the lead runner, but double-clutched and had to take the out at first. It brought the lefty Bourn to the play with one outs and men on second and third. Bourn smoked a ball into the gap in right-center that took a hop and hit the wall for a bases-clearing triple. 3-0 Houston. Sanchez hit a ball to right that Francisco took for the second out. Bourn tagged and Francisco made a strong throw, but Bourn was safe to put Houston up 4-0. Ruiz didn’t handle the ball cleanly, but it wouldn’t have mattered. Pence popped to first to set Houston down.
Herndon gets a chance against the lefty Bourn and Bourn changes the game with a triple that leads to three Houston runs.
Madson started the eighth with Houston’s lead cut to 4-2. He set the Astros down in order, getting Lee on a ground ball to short and striking out Hall and Johnson.
Baez started the ninth and got Wallace on a fly ball to left for the first out. Quintero grounded to second for the second. Jason Bourgeois hit a ball back up the middle that Rollins took near the bag at second. Bourgeois beat Rollins’s throw to first on a close play for an infield single. Bourgeois stole second easily as the count went 2-0 on the lefty Bourn. The righty Baez walked the lefty Bourn intentionally, bringing the righty Sanchez to the plate. Sanchez grounded to the mound to leave both men stranded.
Nice day for Madson and a pretty good day for Baez after Herndon gives up the huge triple to the lefty Bourn. The Phils didn’t use their second lefty in the pen, Bastardo, in the game. Romero faced one lefty and gave up a hit. Overall the pen went three innings on the day and allowed three runs on four hits and walk.
Baez threw 20 pitches in the game. Herndon 14, Madson 12, Romero three.
The Phillies lineup against righty Brett Myers went (1) Victorino (2) Polanco (3) Rollins (4) Howard (5) Ibanez (6) Francisco (7) Ruiz (8) Valdez. Rollins had a great day, but hasn’t done anything in a long time that justifies hitting him third for a team that’s trying to win the World Series. Ruiz hits ahead of Valdez. I expect that the Phillies will try to break up Howard and Ibanez with Francisco at some point, but apparently not against a righty on opening day.
Victorino led off the bottom of the first for the Phils and flew to the warning track in right on an 0-1 pitch for the first out. Polanco got ahead 2-0 before he grounded to second for the second out. Rollins swung at the first pitch he saw and grounded to second as well.
Howard led off the second with a single into left. Ibanez was next and hit a ball hard to second and into a double-play. Francisco popped up a 1-1 pitch and Hall took it near the right field foul line to end the inning.
Ruiz started the third and bounced to third for the first out. Valdez was next and hit a ball down the line that landed in the left field corner for a double. Halladay hit a ball up the middle. Sanchez knocked it down and threw to first, just getting Halladay on a close call with Valdez taking third. Halladay was probably safe. Victorino got ahead 2-1, but flew to Bourn in center on a 3-1 pitch to end the inning.
Nice hustle by Valdez on the ball he hit to get two bases. Good no bunt by the Phils with Halladay, who should have been called safe at first, which would have changed the inning.
Polanco flew to right to start the fourth. Rollins was next and Johnson made a nice play at third, moving to his left to field his grounder and throwing to first for the second out. Howard swung at the first pitch and grounded to first for the third out.
Myers had thrown just 36 pitches through four innings, compared to 57 for Halladay. Myers hadn’t struck anyone out, while Halladay had five.
The Phils went in order in the fifth, with Ibanez grounding to second, Francisco lining hard to third and Ruiz flying to center.
Valdez led off the sixth with the Phils trailing 1-0 and flew to left. The lefty Orr hit for Halladay and hit a hard line drive that was taken by Wallace at first for the second out. Victorino drew a walk on a close 3-1 pitch, bringing Polanco to the plate with two down and a man on first. Victorino was running on the 1-0 pitch to Polanco and Quintero threw him out from his knees to end the inning.
Really strong and accurate throw by Quintero to get Victorino. Glad to see Victorino running.
The Phils trailed 4-0 when they hit in the seventh. Polanco led off with a walk on a high 3-1 pitch. Rollins followed that with a single into right that moved Polanco to second. Howard got behind 0-2 and Myers delivered a 1-2 pitch that was way outside and off the glove of Quintero, allowing Polanco and Rollins to move to second and third. Quintero was charged with a passed ball. Howard drove a 2-2 pitch into left-center that Bourn took on the warning track for the first out. Polanco scored (4-1) and Rollins took third with one out. Ibanez delivered a ground ball to first that allowed Rollins to score, cutting the lead to 4-2. Francisco fouled off a 2-0 pitch that Wallace should have handled but didn’t, giving Francisco another chance. Francisco walked on a high 3-2 pitch. Ruiz flew to center to end the inning.
Phils finally get through against Myers, who threw 27 pitches in the inning but was still at just 85 for the game.
Righty Wilton Lopez started the eighth for the Astros. Valdez led off and grounded to second. Gload hit for Madson and singled into left. Victorino got behind 0-2 and hit a slower roller to second on a 1-2 pitch. Hall had no chance for two and took the out at second. It brought Polanco to the plate with two outs and Victorino on first. Polanco hit a ball down the line that Bourgeois, who had taken over for Lee in left, took for the third out.
Nice decision by Manual to use Gload against the righty in the eighth. He surely didn’t want to, as Gload is his best hitter on the bench and didn’t have a chance to tie the game. But it didn’t look at the time like there was going to be anyone else to hit for the rest of the game.
Righty Brandon Lyon started the ninth for Houston and gave up a broken-bat single to right to the leadoff man Rollins. Howard came to the plate as the tying run and singled up the middle on a 3-2 pitch, moving Rollins to second. Ibanez popped a 1-2 pitch up in the infield, which Hall took for the first out. It brought Francisco to the plate and Rollins stole third as the count went 2-1 on Francisco with Howard holding first. Francisco singled into center, scoring Rollins to make it 4-3 and moving Howard to second with Ruiz at the plate. Ruiz drove an 0-1 pitch to left and off the wall but foul and then lined a single into left that loaded the bases for Valdez with one out. Valdez singled to left on the first pitch of his at-bats, moving everyone up a base and tying the game at 4-4. The righty Mayberry hit for Baez with a righty on the mound and drove a 2-2 pitch over the head of Bourn, scoring Francisco to give the Phils a 5-4 win.
That’s quite a rally with Rollins, Francisco, Valdez and Mayberry all pitching in.
Would have been a really atrocious time for Rollins to get caught going for third. Manuel calls on Mayberry and not the lefty Schneider to hit against the righty Lyons with one out and the bases loaded. Worked out pretty well.
Victorino was 0-for-3 with a walk and a caught stealing.
Polanco 0-for-3 with a walk.
Rollins 2-for-4 with two singles and a stolen base.
Howard 2-for-3 with an RBI.
Ibanez 0-for-4 with an RBI.
Francisco 1-for-3 with a walk, an RBI and a two-base error in right.
Ruiz 1-for-4, but picked a real good time for his hit.
Valdez 2-for-4 with a double and a huge hit and an RBI in the ninth. He had the only extra-base hit of the game for the Phils.
Mayberry was 1-for-1 with a single that won the game.
Cliff Lee faces lefty Wandy Rodriguez Saturday night.
The next update to Philliesflow won’t be until next week. Monday probably.