Comebacks used to be part of the very fabric of this Phillies club. Countless times during this incredible run, they’d leave you hanging for eight-or-so innings then flip the script and send you home happy. This one reminded us of the old times – and in more ways than one.
The first reminder was the long ball. It used to be that anyone in this Phillies order could home at any time. None other than Brian Schnieder and Wilson Valdez would help us relive old memories. Both hit three-run homers early in the game to give the Phils a cozy 6-3 lead on June 29 in Cincinnati.
Prior to the game, both Chase Utley and Placido Polanco were sent to the disabled list; Utley with a torn thumb ligament, Polanco with a nagging elbow injury that would haunt him all season. Valdez would be called on to anchor the infield defensively. In this one, he added some O.
Next up were the shortcomings of Brad Lidge. No longer “Lights Out” – he hadn’t been for some time – Lidge was still in the process of rounding into form following trips to the DL to start the season.
With two outs in the ninth he unraveled, as he had so many times the previous year. Joey Votto eyed a hanging slider and crushed it as if it were on a tee to tie the game at six.
“No f—ing way,” Lidge would whisper to himself, as you can clearly see on the replay. Yes f—ing way, Brad.
Luckily for the struggling closer, the final phase of the game was reminiscent of the best times the Phillies have produced. It consisted of instant offense and the team’s innate ability to surprise you at any moment. At first, however, it didn’t seem possible.
Not with old reliable on the hill, lefty Arthur Rhodes. He’d put together an impressive streak of 33 straight appearances without a run. Needless to say, that streak ended there.
Ryan Howard doubled to begin the inning, two batters later Raul Ibanez did the same to bring him home, and just like that the momentum of the game shifted poles once more. To follow, Ben Francisco would single home a run, and Valdez would squeeze home Ibanez for a 9-6 lead. J.C. Romero closed it in the bottom of the 10th.
Just like old times: a big lead made possible by the long ball, a blown save by Lidge, and a ridiculous comeback that looked impossible. Call that Phillies baseball.