—Citizens Bank Park
Sensing the playoffs are within arms length, the Phillies did what they could to reserve a spot with a 3-2 win over the Mets. They solved the puzzle that is R.A. Dickey and got a solid performance out of Joe Blanton, capturing their 11th consecutive victory in the process. The 11 wins in a row is the most since they ran off 13 straight in 1991.
Blanton came up with seven solid innings, following the lead of the Big 3 before him. Big Joe fanned six and had made one mistake, which ended up deep in the right field seats off the bat of Angel Pagan. Blanton normally makes one or two mistakes per game that hurt him, but lately he’s been able to minimize any possible damage. He’ll come in handy in the playoffs as the likely long relief guy for the NLDS. Manuel may have looked ahead just for a minute here, saving Joe’s arm by leaving him in for only 74 pitches.
The Phillies fourth starter isn’t worried about what his role will be in the postseason, he just wants more jewelry. “I’m here to win. I’m not here to, ‘ahh, I want to start’,” said Blanton. ” I’m here to try and win another ring, you know, that’s more important to me than anything.”
R. A. Dickey has killed the Phillies at times this year, but today he was the hunted. In six innings of work he allowed three runs – two earned – over eight hits, with two walks and four strikeouts.
Dickey was pounced on early as Victorino went yard to open up the evening, allowing the crowd to get started early. In the second inning, Victorino struck again, plating Wilson Valdez with a double to left field. Two innings later, Carlos Ruiz continued his steady season with an RBI single, scoring Raul Ibanez who had singled early and moved to second on a passed ball.
Ryan Madson locked down the eighth inning by throwing gas and retiring the side in order on just 15 pitches. Brad Lidge came in and got a quick out, before getting into some trouble.
Ike Davis doubled to left, his third hit of the game, and was pushed to third on a fly out to deep center by Pagan. With two outs and a runner on third, Lidge walked Josh Thole before the most interesting play of the night occured.
As Lidge came home on his 0-1 pitch to Jesus Feliciano, time was called by third base umpire Hunter Wendelstedt. Apparently, the Mets were attempting to pinch run one pitch into the at-bat, something that seldom occurs. Feliciano had grounded the ball back to Lidge, who thought the game was over. It was not.
“It was a little ridiculous I think,’ said Lidge. “It’s kind of a weird play…but either way I guess I just have to stay focused and hope that’s not something I have to do every time.”
Luckily, after some arguing that went nowhere from Charlie Manuel, Lidge struck Feliciano out to end the ballgame on an odd note. Nonetheless, the Phillies sealed the deal and took a step toward their fourth straight division crown.
With the Phillies win and the Braves 8-3 loss to Washington tonight, the magic number in the division is now two. A win tomorrow, coupled with another Braves loss, and the division will be sealed. The champagne could be flowing tomorrow night.