The game started off VERY well – Michael Bourn, who has suddenly remembered how to walk, hit and bunt, led off the game with an opposite field single, then stole second on the very next pitch. When he’s ON, he’s really just fun to watch. Angel Sanchez singled to right – dave Clark held up Bourn at 3rd because Werth can throw VERY well. Pence then hit a sac-fly to deep right center, Bourn trotted home, but Sanchez didn’t bother to tag up and go to second, which he really SHOULD have done as Victorino was at the deepest part of the park and moving backwards as he caught the ball. BAD baserunning. Carlos then hit a double which split the gap in deep right center, Victorino had to chase the ball, and somehow, Sanchez took off late or wasn’t running fast enough, and didn’t make a good slide, and Victorino hit Utley, the cutoff man, who threw a bullet to Ruiz and Sanchez was dead meat.
CJ then hit a fly ball to the RF line and with the ball falling fast and slicing away from Werth, he made a GREAT sliding catch to rob CJ – which was a shame because it was the only ball he hit all night. Dude has just GOT to stop swinging at and swinging through most of pitches thrown to him – he got called out in the 4th on a checked swing on a ball in the dirt – and when you swing at bout most ANYthing, the ump ain’t gonna give you the benefit of the doubt.
For the next 4 innings, the Astros went down 1,2,3 as Joe Blanton pumped in strike after strike. Bourn singled to start the 6th, then stole second again, but was stranded on 3rd by Pence and Clank.
Meanwhile, the Phils, who went down 1,2,3 in the first and second, tied the game on a Carlos Ruiz homer. Then Valdez, the utility IF grounded out, Blanton singled up the middle, and Jimmy Rollins singled to shallow left center, and Clank booted the ball, allowing both runners to move up a base. Victorino hit a ball to first, and Wallace thew home to get Blanton trying to score. Wallace is deft and graceful – surprising in such a blocky looking guy. Then, of course, Utley singled home Rollins and the Phils led 2-1 and held the lead until the end of the 7th.
I most certainly Do have to give props to Quintero. In the bottom of the 6th, Werth doubled off the wall, Ibanez Kd, then they IBBd Ruiz, who has a nasty habit of pounding the ball with 2 outs and RISP. Q noticed that Werth haed wandered off second, and wasn’t really paying attention, and he fired to Sanchez, waiting at second and they picked off Werth to end the inning – not that Valdez was much of a threat, but just the same, better to have him leading off the next inning than a pinch hitter.
And indeed, he didn’t get a hit to lead off the bottom of the 7th, but pinch hitter Domonic Brown singled, then Jimmy Rollins singled (sometimes I check that guy’s BA/OBP and am surprised to see that he makes outs), then Victorino GIDP to end the inning and keep the lead at just 1 run.
Which really mattered because Ryan Madsen, who hadn’t given up a run (or let one score) this month, gave up a single to PH Jason Michaels. I know you are wondering why on earth Mr. LeftyRighty Matchup Manager let a righty bat against a righty – it’s because Blum’s neck is sore and Jason Castro isn’t hitting. Anyway, then the breaks went the Astros way. Bourn laid down a bunt single toward first – Ryan Howard fielded it and tried to tag Bourn out, but Bourn eluded the tag – stepped slightly outside the baseline to avoid it, managed to do so, and was called safe by the 1B ump – not that the HP ump, who was watching, disagreed.
Oh, and heck broke loose. Charlie Manuel wasn’t happy, although he didn’t pull a Pinella and scream or kick/throw bases, and finally got hisself tossed. I know you have to step more than just a couple of incles outside of the lines, as Bourn did to evade the tag, and the ump was actually right.
So then Sanchez laid down a nice sac-bunt to 3rd and there was a Meeting On The Mound to discuss whether or not to walk Pence and pitch to Clank or just pitch to em both. Finally, they decided to pitch to Pence, and Madson struck him out on a FB around the shoulders. But the very next pitch, low, at the knees and inside, Clank poked over the third baseman into left and Michaels, with Bourn 10′ behind him, came roaring in to take the lead. CJ grounded out weakly to short.
Byrdak came in to pitch the 8th – actually, he’s pitching VERY well this year – Since June 1, he’s given up runs in exactly 2 of 31 appearances. He gave up a single to Werth, but got out leftys Utley, Howard and Ibanez.
Brad Lidge came on to pitch the top of the 9th, and I didn’t recognise him. Well, I mean, of COURSE I know what he looks like, duh, but I mean that his mechanics are completely different. He throws his FB around 90 and his slider around 81-82. I guess this is the result of all his knee/arm problems, but he is quite effective at lower velocities. The slider still had wicked movement and guys couldn’t hit it and couldn’t lay off. I know that everyone is supposd to hyperventilate and get all hex-cited about the MPH, but it ain’t the speed, it’s the motion.
Brandon Lyon came in to close out and immediately threw 3 pitches to Ruiz that weren’t even close. He then threw a gimmee strike, then another ball and I thought – oh noooooooooooes. But Valdez popped out, pinch hitter Polanco flew out to Bourn and Rollins lined out to Michaels in left.
Tomorrow, Bud Norris faces lefty Cole Hamels, who is 7-10 with a 3.51 ERA – proving that no matter how well you pitch, iffn you don’t get no run support, you might could Know How To Win, but you won’t.