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Blanton/Myers Duel Comes Down to Close Call at 1st Base



This is why instant replay may be expanded in the near future. Unfortunately for the Phillies, they’re the ones who have to suffer because of what looked like a blown call.

In the top of the eighth inning, and with a pinch hitter Jason Michaels on first, Michael Bourn laid a bunt down that trickled to Ryan Howard at first base. Howard dove at Bourn, appearing to graze his jersey, but Bourn was called safe by first base umpire Greg Gibson. It also appeared that Bourn was very close to running out of the baseline to reach first base, which would have resulted in an automatic out. Neither part of the play was called, thus allowing the inning to proceed with runners at first and second with no outs.

Charlie Manuel came out to argue but to no avail. Manuel was tossed for the fifth time this season and afterward he spoke about a similar discrepancy with Gibson during a game against the Indians in Philadelphia.

Ryan Howard was adamant that he indeed brushed Bourn with his glove. “I know I did…he knows I did too, said Howard. “I know that he knows that I tagged him…we’ll just say that.”

Three batters later, Carlos Lee brought both home with a broken-bat flare to left field, giving Houston a 3-2 lead.

Maybe Gibson truly believed his call was correct. Maybe it was the proper safe ruling. The problem with the call was that Gibson HAD to make sure it was 100% correct, and he did not do that. With home plate umpire Scott Barry walking out to first base, Gibson had the opportunity to at least make sure all was right. He did not, and it may have cost the Phillies a victory.

I’m not for instant replay, and this postgame is not meant to be a commentary on it, however, this is why more people are calling for Major League Baseball to implement a broader stance on how it is used.

Still, some of the blame has to be put on Madson, who allowed the runners to reach base and for allowing a two-out hit to Lee to flip the game on its head. Madson has been very good lately (13 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings prior to tonight), and this blemish on his record came at an inopportune time.

Before all of the hoopla of the eighth inning, there was a pitchers duel between Joe Blanton and former Phillie Brett Myers.

Blanton pitched a hell of a ballgame, striking out a season-high nine Astros over seven innings and 100 pitches (68 strikes). The opening inning was again an issue for Blanton, as he allowed the only Astros run to score to open things up. As usual, he settled in by retiring 11 of the next 12 batters, en route to his finest performance of the season. Over his past six starts, Blanton has allowed two earned runs or fewer in four of them. The concern is the 22-first inning runs he has allowed, which tied for fourth among major league starters, despite him missing time to begin the year.

Old pal Brett Myers was a tough customer in his seven innings of work as well. Myers, too, fanned nine batters and tied an impressive franchise record. Tonight marked the 26th straight six-inning performance for Brett, tying him with Larry Dierker for the most in Astros history. It was also the 28th career victory for Myers at CBP, placing him second all-time behind Cole Hamels (31).

Myers’ mistakes were made in the third inning as Carlos Ruiz led off the frame with a home run to left field to tie the game at one. Four batters later, Chase Utley singled home Jimmy Rollins to make it a 2-1 game.

Speaking of mistakes, how about Jayson Werth’s bonehead blunder in the sixth inning? During an intentional walk of Carlos Ruiz, Astros catcher Humberto Quintero caught Werth napping off of second base. A completely inexcusable play that Manuel said “speaks for itself.” In my opinion, Werth should have been lifted, however Manuel said he didn’t think about taking him out of the game.

In the end, it comes down to the offense’s inability to capitalize on a 10-hit night and the bullpens inability to come up big with their backs against the wall in the late innings.

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