Today is the anniversary of one of the all-time games in Phillies history, the 23-22 10-inning game in Wrigley Field. The Phillies got off to a fast start by scoring seven runs in the top of the first inning, only to give up six runs in the bottom of the inning. And we were off.
Mike Schmidt hit two home runs in the game and starting pitcher Randy Lerch also hit a home run, while only being able to record one out on the mound. The Phillies scored eight runs in the third inning and the Cubs scored seven in the fifth inning. The Phillies took a 22-19 lead in to the bottom of the eighth inning, but of course this was not a safe lead. The Cubs tacked three runs on the scoreboard in the inning and nobody scored in the ninth. Schmidt's two-out solo home run in the tenth inning would be the eventual game winner in a classic Wrigley Field game that Chris Wheeler will surely discuss plenty tonight.
Twelve years later to the day, at Veterans Stadium, it was quite the opposite. The Phillies and Cubs could not score a run to save their lives, going 15 scoreless innings before Dickie Thon singled in Dale Murphy for a 1-0 victory at the Vet. Each team had ten hits in the game, with Phillies pitcher Tommy Greene picking up the win in relief.
Hector Luna's grand slam in the ninth inning put the cherry on top of a fine evening for the Phillies in Chicago. Photo: Getty Images
I tweeted toward the end of the Phillies 9-2 victory in Wrigley Field last night that this was the kind of win where we would wake up the next morning and wonder aloud if the Phillies got their swagger back. For the first time all season the Phillies have won four consecutive games, thanks to a more than adequate performance by the much-maligned Kyle Kendrick on the mound, even in the face of adversity.
Sure, Kendrick allowed a two-run home run to Alfonso Soriano moments after Juan Pierre dropped a fly ball in left field, but it was a night in which Kendrick battled back. After serving up the two-run shot to Soriano, Kendrick found his way to first base off of Matt Garza, and Pierre followed up with a double down the left field line as he attempted to do what he coudl to get the lead back. The Phillies would score one run in the failed shutdown inning from Garza, and Carlos Ruiz (who else?) smacked a solo shot of his own to left field in the eighth inning to put the Phillies back on top.
The Phillies looked to pad their lead in the ninth, and did they ever. Freddy Galvis (now hitting .235) started the inning off with a double, which seems out of place without a runner already on base. Mike Fontenot was hit by a pitch, and Jimmy Rollins went to the plate looking to bunt the runners over but accepted a four-pitch walk instead. Ty Wigginton's two-RBI single pushed the lead to three runs as Jonathan Papelbon was warming up for the bottom of the inning, but he would not be needed on this night.
Hector Luna, just added to the roster for a short period of time, stepped to the plate looking to carry over some of his late inning heroics from Clearwater. He must have been picturing the tiki bar in left field because that is where he delivered a pitch with authority, for his first career grand slam. It could not have come at a better time for the him and the Phillies, and you really could not have scripted it any better.
It was one of those wins that has all of the ingredients of a team that does not quit. The error in the outfield made up for by the player who committed it. The starting pitcher who gives up the potential back-breaking home run who leads off the next inning with a single. The late-inning home run for the team's ost deserving All-Star candidate. The late outburst of runs keyed by unsung heroes just called up from the minors.
This is the kind of game the Phillies would have lost a month ago. This is the kind of game the Phillies would win when things are going right in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Continue reading for some recommended links, a look at what happened in the NL East last night and the updated NL East standings...
A toast to George Brett, who celebrates his 58th birthday today. Here he is enjoying a beverage with Mike Schmidt for a Sports Illustrated photo.
Placido Polanco's first home run of the season sure was a memorable one. Polanco's two-run homer to left center field last night in the eighth inning of a damp game against the Houston Astros pushed the Phillies lead to 5-1, taking the game out of a save situation and making victory just a little more certain for a team that has struggled to close games out. Of course, the home run was also the 2,000th hit of his career.
Here is some standard YouTube video of someone recording their television with their phone to relive the moment...
Polanco is now the 269th player in MLB history to eclipse the 2,000 hit mark, and he should move up on the list a good amount before the end of the season. Juan Pierre is currently 243rd on the all-time list of players with 2,000 career hits with 2,053 hits. Former Phillie third baseman, ironically initially traded by the Phillies in exchange for Polanco, Scott Rolen is 254th on the all-time list with 2,021 hits.
After the game Polanco, of course, talked about hitting the 2,000 hit mark. This video, via Calkins Media (Bucks County Courier Times, The Intelligencer etc.)...
While Polanco deserves props for his milestone last night, the stars of the game were really Joe Blanton and Freddy Galvis. Blanton took the game in to the eighth inning in another solid outing, allowing just one run (on a lead-off home run to pinch hitter Marwin Gonzalez in the eighth inning), and walking one while striking out seven Astros. Galvis boosted the Phillies offense with a three-hit night and two runs batted in to give the Phillies a lead. Galvis has slowly raised his batting average to .231, which of course is nothing to write home about but does show he may be making some progress. Don't look now but Galvis is now third on the team in RBI totals, with 15 (Hunter Pence and Carlos Ruiz lead the team with 23 RBI each).
Antonio Bastardo and Chad Qualls combined for an inning of relief of Blanton before handing the game over to the already-warmed up Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth inning of what became a non-save situation. Despite some disagreement over the strike zone early, Papelbon closed out the game with three strikeouts.
Cole Hamels was good yesterday. Hey, he should have been with the extra rest after being suspended last week. With yesterday's 3-2 win against the San Diego Padres, the Phillies picked up just their second home series win of the season (and first since taking two of three from Miami from April 9-12). So far the Phillies are 7-9 at Citizens Bank Park. If Charlie Manuel really did send a message with his closed-door meeting the other night, then the Phillies will take both games of a mini two-game series with the Houston Astros, starting tonight (weather pending).
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the New York Mets are likely to offer third baseman David Wright a long-term deal. Bad news for any Phillies fan who had visions of Wright manning third base after Placido Polanco's contract expires.
Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos was placed on the disabled list with a torn ACL, and he is done for the rest of the year. The Nats Blog takes a look at who will fill in behind the plate for the Nationals moving forward.
Long before he was perfecting the position of third base and smacking home runs against National League pitchers, Mike Schmidt was a college baseball player trying to win a College World Series. The former Ohio Bobcat was elected in to the Mid-American Conference Hall of Fame yesterday, with the induction ceremony scheduled for next Thursday, April 17.
"We couldn't be happier for Mike and his family," said Ohio Athletics Director Jim Schaus. "Mike truly is one of the legendary figures in the game of baseball, but also at Ohio University as he helped lead our program to the 1970 College Baseball World Series. We are so proud to have him as one of our alumni and we look forward to a special evening."
Schmidt was a four-year letterman for Ohio from 1967-71 and was named All-American in 1970 and 1971. In 1970 Schmidt helped lead Ohio to the College Baseball World Series and he earned First Team All-MAC in three seasons.
Joining Schmidt in this year's class are Ben Curtis (Kent State, men's golf), Herb Deromedi (Central Michigan, football), Wayne Embry (Miami, men's basketball), Karen Fitzpatrick (Ball State, field hockey) and Bob Nichols (Toledo, men's basketball).
"Playing with Mike Schmidt during my collegiate career was a true honor and I am thrilled that he will be recognized as one of the all-time greats in the history of the Mid-American Conference," said Ohio Baseball head coach Joe Carbone.
Schmidt, of course, was inducted in to the National Baseball Hall of fame in 1995, along with Richie Ashburn and a year after Steve Carlton.
I know I said earlier that I was done talking about Cole Hamels and his bean ball incident against Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals, but when news breaks it changes plans quickly. Hamels has been suspended five games by Major League Baseball, and he will begin serving the penalty without contest immediately. As I said earlier today, by openly admitting to intentionally hitting Harper Sunday night Hamels automatically loses any right to appeal he would have had otherwise.
Of course, as Todd Zolecki points out, the way the schedule plays out, the suspension really means nothing other than a loss of some pay. The final game Hamels will have to serve on his suspension would be scheduled for Saturday, which should see Roy Halladay take the mound. Hamels could then pitch on Sunday, losing virtually no playing time.
In the end the suspension does little to hurt the Phillies as a team, and Hamels will be right back in action.
It looked ugly right away, and Jayson Werth's reaction told the story well enough. The Nationals confirmed last night that their star right fielder suffered a broken wrist while trying to snag a ball in the outfield last night against the Phillies. His slide looked like it would result in a nice catch but Werth's wrist got caught and twisted in a bad way, forcing the outfielder to grimace in pain and go right to holding his wrist in great pain.
This afternoon Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports that Werth will undergo surgery today, forcing him to potentially miss ten to 12 weeks of the regular season. The good news is that the wrist injury apparently does not have any ties to his previous injuries that once threatened his pro career. That is very good news, at least relatively speaking.
If nothing else, it looks clear that Bryce Harper's stay in the big leagues will certainly be extended. The Nationals will platoon a few players in right field, and with the injury to Werth will almost have to keep Harper up in the majors. Nobody is really complaining about that, because it looks like he is capable of handling his own right now.
Hopefully Werth can get back on the field as quickly as possible. The Nationals will be hurt for a while in the outfield, but they should be in good enough shape to weather the storm as long as Ryan Zimmerman comes back and is effective. We know that their pitching is legit, but the struggling offense must now get by without one of their top offensive weapons for about two months.
In his last three starts the Phillies offense has failed Halladay, but you can't say the same about last week's meltdown in Atlanta. The bats came alive against the Braves in game two of the three-game series, building a rare 6-0 lead for the ace pitcher, but something went wrong in the bottom of the fifth inning, as the Braves fought back with a six-run outburst keyed by a grand slam by catcher Brian McCann. Halladay was pulled in the middle of the sixth inning and was charged for two more runs. It was a rare type of outing for Halladay, who has earned the right to have a bad outing based on his body of work. But even a bad outing raises questions when the offense gives you a six=run lead in the fifth inning. No matter how gassed you may be, that is a game you have to win. Blame Halladay, and blame the bullpen. That game was not on the offense.
Prior to the start in Atlanta Halladay came up on the short end of losses to two of the National League's worst teams, the San Diego Padres and Chicago Cubs. Halladay allowed five runs in 14 innings against San Diego and Chicago, but the Phillies were only able to muster one run in each game.
Halladay will make his first start since blowing a six-run lead and being charged for eight runs in Atlanta Wednesday night. After the game Halladay left the team to attend to an unknown family concern, and he rejoined the team a day later in Washington D.C. When he returns to Citizens Bank Park tonight he look to get back on track. With a 9-2 career record against the Mets, with a 2.88 ERA, 1.115 WHIP and 7.0 SO/9 rate you would think that he will be ready to get ack in the win column.
This will be the first time Halladay faces the Mets this season.
The fallout from Cole Hamels pegging Bryce Harper in the backside Sunday night in the first inning continues today, with the Washington Nationals getting in to the mix in ironic fashion. A general manager calling a player gutless? Real smooth move for a man who will defend himself from a luxury box in the stadium while the player has to work on the field. Right?
Heck, I may be in the minority with the usual readers here but I'll even tell you this move by Chase Utley was more of a classless act than what Hamels did. And I'm even trying to be fair without even touching this, although I just did.
Just checking. Anyway, you can understand where the general manager of the Nationals is coming from, and he really is doing nothing more than defending his own player that could become the face of the franchise down the road. Hamels admitted after last night's game that he did in fact throw a ball at Harper intentionally, and even though he should be suspended for the move you have to give Hamels at least an ounce of respect for coming out and not hiding from his intent the way a number of pitchers have before. Hamels did not duck and cover form the incident. He took his own hit-by-pitch like a professional and never once showed any intent to throw at another Nationals player.
“Cole Hamels says he’s old school? He’s the polar opposite of old school. He’s fake tough. He thinks he’s going to intimidate us after hitting our 19-year rookie who’s eight games into the big leagues? He doesn’t know who he’s dealing with.”
This coming from the general manager of a franchise who saw a number of John Lannan pitches make contact with second baseman Chase Utley and other Phillies batters.
Hardball Talk says Hamels "decided to open his big mouth after his outing."
The Outside Corner calls out Hamels on his logic behind the decision to plunk Harper while Big League Stew is still trying to figure out the thought process, referring to Hamels as a Jedi at one point. Eye on Baseball also notes that Harper laughed the whole thing off and said "It's all good." Of course, Harper would later come around to steal home on Hamels, so that may have been part of his thinking when discussing it afterward.
As I said earlier, I would have absolutely no problem with Hamels being served a suspension in which he would miss one start. He admitted to going after a player and that should guarantee a suspension. Hamels even loses out on any chance of an appeal because he willingly said he threw at a baseball player.
Expect Hamels to learn of a suspension this week, which means the Phillies will need to plug in Kyle Kendrick for at least one more start. Cliff Lee is expected to return for his next start, removing the need for Kendrick on the mound for that.