Phils' offense looking good; pitching not so much
The game was all but over when the Phillies' offense got going again. Maybe the winning run came across the plate because of a Todd Helton error, but the Phillies wouldn’t have gotten their second walk-off victory of the season if they hadn’t kept the inning alive in the first place.
With two outs in the ninth inning and the situation looking grim, Ty Wigginton reached on a single past the shortstop. Hunter Pence drove Wigginton in with a double to left field to tie the game. Carlos Ruiz was intentionally walked. Shane Victorino legged out a single. In the end, Pence scored to give the Phillies the 7-6 come-from-behind win because Helton came off the first base bag when shortstop Marco Scutaro tried to throw Placido Polanco out on a grounder hit up the middle. But, as Polanco said, “they all count.”
“At the end, not only did we get a break, but we got some big hits, too,” Charlie Manuel said.
The Phillies have been hitting for a while now. But until Wednesday night, those hits hadn’t produced many dramatic moments. Going into Wednesday’s game, the Phillies ranked first in runs scored in the National League and fourth in the majors since May 1. They’ve scored four or more runs in 31 of their last 46 games.
The Phils got nine hits by eight different players against the Rockies on Wednesday. Jimmy Rollins, John Mayberry and Pence all had doubles, while Michael Martinez hit a three-run homer in the second inning.
The Phils are averaging 4.9 runs per game since May 1, but their opponents aren’t far behind (4.6 per game). That might have something to do with outings like the one Joe Blanton had against the Rockies. Blanton threw 83 pitches over seven innings, giving up six hits and five earned runs.
More troubling than his pitching line were the pitches he threw that never came back. Blanton served a three-run homer to Colorado’s eight-hole hitter, Willin Rosario, in the second inning. In the third inning he surrendered a home run to Michael Cuddyer, and he watched Chris Nelson mash one in the fourth inning. Three home runs. Seven innings. So. Yeah. There was that.
The shot Rosario hit to deep center field was so long that it prompted two reporters in the press box to do a quick, impromptu reenactment of a classic scene from "Major League".
Writer 1 (as Jake Taylor): “That ball wouldn’t have been out of a lot of ballparks.”
Writer 2 (as Rick Vaughn): “Name one.”
Writer 1: “Yellowstone.”
The chemistry between them wasn’t as good as what Tom Berenger and Charlie Sheen had, but the delivery was better than expected.
Blanton gave up only one home run in his first six starts this season. Since May 14, though, he has surrendered 16 home runs, the most in the majors. He has also allowed at least one home run in each of his last eight starts. That makes Blanton a member of an ignominious club. In Phillies history, only four other pitchers have given up home runs in more consecutive outings:
Don Carmen (nine straight games), Dennis Cook (nine), Bruce Chen (10) and Randy Wolfe (12). (The only surprising thing about that list is that Adam Eaton isn’t on it. I stared at it for a long while, convinced that my eyes were deceiving me.)
Blanton wasn’t the only pitcher who struggled against the Rockies. Entering Wednesday’s game, Jonathan Papelbon had not allowed an earned run in 17 save opportunities, but he had a bloated 5.79 ERA in 10 non-save opportunities. When he took the mound against the Rockies, the game was tied. When he left – and given his previous outings in similar situations, you’ll likely be shocked by this – it was no longer tied. It was only because the Phillies staged a rare comeback that Papelbon got the win instead of the loss.
“We’re scoring more runs now,” Polanco said. “Sometimes we’re going to score runs and the pitching’s not there. Or vice versa.”
That is how it has gone this year. Around and around it goes. It has been a dizzying season.