Adjectives to describe the conditions on Opening Day at Citizens Bank Park: cold, dreary, ugly.
Adjectives to describe the Phillies offense up until the ninth inning on Opening Day at Citizens Bank Park: cold, dreary, ugly.
The Phillies opened up the 2011 season the same way they ended the 2010 year – with little patience at the plate, providing nothing for starter Roy Halladay.
Halladay left the game after six innings and 101 pitches – he struck out six and walked none – but was given no run support. Then, it happened…again.
Our old pals, the Comeback Kids, did what they’ve done countless times over the past few years; and that’s win when a win seemed so far away. Down 4-0 to the Astros in the seventh, the Phils scored twice in the bottom of that frame, then three more times in the bottom of the ninth off of Houston closer Brandon Lyon, capped by John Mayberry’s walkoff single to center field for a memorable 5-4 win.
Jimmy Rollins started the fun with a single, Ryan Howard followed him up with the same. Raul Ibanez popped out, but Rollins then stole third and scored on a Ben Francisco single to left field. Carlos Ruiz joined Howard and Francisco on the basepaths with a single, loading them up for Wilson Valdez.
Valdez would continue to give Astros left fielder Jason Bourgeios a workout with a single to score Howard. Mayberry finished it off – as his parents looked on from the stands – by ripping a low and away cutter over the head of center fielder Michael Bourn, scoring Francisco. All in all, just your average Opening Day, come-from-behind, walkoff win.
Halladay did not get the win, but certainly pitched well enough to deserve it. His excellent spring training rolled right into the regular season, although a high pitch count kept him from working deeper. Six innings of one run ball on Opening Day in 40 degree weather is damn good.
Halladay broke several bats and made several Astros players look downright goofy at the plate. The absence of runs behind him, and some ugly defensive miscues sprinkled in – one being a relatively easy fly ball near the warning track in right field that was botched by Ben Francisco – unfortunately sent Halladay to the showers trailing 1-0.
His counterpart, Brett Myers, was in the zone early, throwing just 36 pitches in the first four innings. He’d leave with a 4-2 lead after going seven innings, giving up two runs. Myers was not unhittable though, as he did not strike out a Phillie on the day. The Phillies offense simply couldn’t reach base with any consistency until the seventh inning when they struck for the first two runs.
What’s slightly disconcerting is the lack of extra-base hits. Wilson Valdez had their lone extra-base hit, a double in the third inning. Also worrisome was the performance of David Herndon. After looking especially sharp during Spring Training, Herndon crumbled in the seventh inning, giving up two runs on a triple by Bourn. Herndon will need to show consistency for him to stay with this team, or else Mike Stutes, Scott Mathieson, or someone else will be on his heels ready to pounce on that spot in the pen.
But let’s focus on the good here – the Phillies started off sloppy and ended well. When their backs were against the wall, they gave the 45, 237 in attendance something to remember.
The conditions to start may have been unpleasant, but isn’t it all in how you finish?
Tomorrow: Wandy Rodriguez vs. Cliff Lee