Shortly after learning that Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are moving closer to game action, the Phillies took to the field and dispatched of the Chicago Cubs in a clean 5-2 victory.
After an aggravating game last night in which they failed to take advantage of another good start by their pitcher, the Phillies bats showed up in this one, backing up Joe Blanton’s excellent performance on the mound.
New Look Lineup Proves Effective:
– Charlie Manuel shuffled his lineup before the game, moving Jimmy Rollins into the leadoff spot, Hunter Pence to the three-hole (both players’ rightful spots in the order), and starting Jim Thome at first, Pete Orr at second, and Laynce Nix in left. It was the seventeenth different lineup Manuel has drawn up this season, but this one seemed to sacrifice defense in the name of getting some hits. The move worked as the Phillies plated five runs.
– In the fourth, the Phillies took a 2-1 lead with a Carlos Ruiz one-out, two-run single. It was a clutch hit from a guy who we’ve come to expect big hits from. Chooch would also hit a solo home run in the sixth, giving him a three RBI game for the first time this season. He has been one of the few reliable bats in the Phillies lineup early on. He’s currently hitting .311 and leads the team with seven extra base hits.
– In an attempt to get J-Roll going–Rollins came into the game hitting just .091 over his last ten games–Manuel hit him leadoff. After going hitless in his first two at-bats, Rollins helped the offense when he sent a two-out bloop double down the right field line with the bases loaded to score two runs, make it 4-1 and chase Randy Wells from the game. It had to feel good for J-Roll, as he was hitless in his previous thirteen at-bats before the double. Hopefully the hit will be the spark Rollins needs to get rolling at the plate again. He would strikeout in the sixth inning to finish the night 1-for-4.
Blanton Loves Homecooking:
– After a shaky first inning, Blanton settled in, allowing seven hits and just one run the rest of the way. He finished with a final line of 7.1 IP, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, and 8 K. Big Joe showed good velocity on his fastball, touching 90 consistently and throwing a ton of strikes (78 strikes to 28 balls) and first pitch strikes. These were all good signs, as Blanton resembled the man we saw in his first start of the season opposed to the man who had struggled his last few times out.
– Blanton has clearly enjoyed pitching at CBP this season. He currently has a 1.88 home ERA, while sporting a 6.17 ERA on the road.
– Blanton’s allowed a combined 30 runs in the first inning of his last 4o starts dating back to 2010.
– The four-run fourth inning marked the ninth time the Phillies have scored three or more runs in an inning this season.
– Jim Thome was replaced at first base by Ty Wigginton in the fifth inning following a play in which he slid into second. Thome left the game with lower back tightness, and is currently listed as day-to-day. This is something to keep an eye on as Thome has been plagued by back maladies throughout his career.
– With his seventh inning single, Wigginton extended his hitting streak to thirteen games.
– Papelbon recorded his seventh save of the season. He is one of just three pitchers with at least seven opportunities yet to blow a save this season. I know people felt the Phillies overpaid for Pap–and the contract could prove to be an albatross down the line–but he has been as good as advertised so far this season.
– The Phillies look to guarantee themselves at least a split tomorrow when they send Kyle Kendrick (0-1, 9.39 ERA) to the mound for his second start in place of the injured Cliff Lee. On the mound for the Cubs will be Matt Garza (1-1, 3.38 ERA).