When MLB surveyed all 29 managers not named Charlie Manuel who would intentionally walk a batter to get to Ryan Howard, they all answered No. All but Bud Black.
Black issued a free pass to Jimmy Rollins in the 11th inning tonight to get to Howard. He attempted to counter the power hitting lefty with left handed reliever Cory Luebke. This did not work out so well. Howard laced a double off the wall in left to score Placido Polanco and Rollins to break a 2-2 tie.
Howard’s two RBI double made everyone forget about his four strikeouts leading up to this at bat. He, then, was then thrown out at home trying to score on a Ben Francisco single. I still don’t remember the strikeouts.
Joe Blanton is determined to prove he is not just another fifth starter. For the second start in a row Blanton went seven innings and allowed only two runs. He battled all night and did a really nice job escaping jams in the first and the fifth innings; the two innings the Padres managed to score.
The bullpen once again was called on to keep the Phillies in it. Danys Baez, Antonio Bastardo and Kyle Kendrick each pitched a perfect inning in relief. Bastardo struck out the side in the ninth to send the game into extras. This season Bastardo has pitched nine innings and struck out 14 batters. He has yet to allow a run.
The Phillies continued to struggle at the plate managing only seven hits on the day. Howard had two and Polanco came off the bench in the eleventh to lead off the inning with a hit. He leads the team with a .367 average. Jimmy Rollins picked up an RBI in the sixth inning on an infield single. It was just his second RBI this season in 79 at bats.
I am not fully on the ‘throw Ibanez under the bus’ bandwagon yet but the Phillies left fielder had another 0-fer night at the plate and hasn’t had a hit since Monday (0-18). His batting average is a miniscule .187.
Polanco’s lead off single is what really set this sequence of events into play. If he doesn’t get a hit, Rollins may never come to the plate only to get intentionally walked and Howard doesn’t get his shot in the 11th.
Kyle Kendrick picked up the win and Ryan Madson was asked to convert his second save of the season. To reiterate, Blanton was impressive today and tomorrow is a Halladay as the Phillies go for the sweep.