Worley again pitched like he belonged on Wednesday night, going six innings, striking out seven Nationals without a walk in the Phillies 7-4 win. He scattered four hits and even sent Nats manager Jim Riggleman to the showers after striking out Adam LaRoche for a second time on a wicked, 93-mph cutter. After arguing balls and strikes with home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez, Riggleman was tossed. But there was no arguing, Worley was on his game.
Speaking of having fun, Raul Ibanez finally is. After busting out of an 0-for-35 slump with two hits last night, Ibanez started himself a proper hitting streak. With a 3-for-4 night, including a solo home run in the fifth inning, Ibanez is now 5-for-7 in the series. Those ugly numbers are behind him, he’s ready to start anew.
“I’m not really looking back anymore,” Ibanez said with a bit of a relieved smile on his face. “But it’s definitely better this way, for sure, and being able to help the team win is really important.”
Near the end of that streak of futility, Ibanez was starting to hit the ball harder, but had nothing to show for it. The results have changed in the last few at-bats, much to his delight.
“I feel better at the plate, I’m starting to feel comfortable.”
Might Phillies fans become a little more comfortable with Ibanez? During this hot streak, look for Charlie Manuel to use him on Thursday against lefty John Lannan. And as a confidence builder, Manuel should keep him in there to see if he can snap out of the funk against lefties.
It was a fine night for nearly everyone involved in the Phils dugout. Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Brian Schneider, and Wilson Valdez each chipped in, sending Nationals starter Jason Marquis to the clubhouse after five-plus innings; even Worley went 1-for-2 with a run scored.
Last season, Marquis talked about Ryan Howard in a negative light, saying he had major holes in his swing and could easily get him out as long as he didn’t make mistakes. Tonight, he made mistakes to just about everyone else in the Phillies order. Howard went 0-for-4, but the rest of the lineup put up 11 hits total.
As for the Nationals and old pal Jayson Werth, they stayed as cold as the air on this unusually chilly May evening.
Werth scuffled at the plate one again, finishing 1-for-4 at the plate with two strikeouts. Fans treated him to a loud chorus of boos throughout the evening, just as they did on Tuesday night following his standing ovation to begin the game. Werth is now three for his last 16. Without lineup protection, it’s becoming obvious that Werth will have a tough time succeeding, or at least carrying a less-than-stellar Nationals team.
His teammates did very little either, except for Alex Cora, who went 3-for-4. Other than that singular performance by the Nats eight-hole hitter, and Adam LaRoche’s RBI double after it appeared as though he had struck out looking on back to back pitches close to the zone, Worley was locked in.
“I’m just trying to contribute the best I can, I mean, some things are going my way,” said Worley, after his second straight excellent outing. “I just want to stay here as long as I can.”
It’s sad to say that stay will likely come to an end at some point. But regardless of that fact, as we know Joe Blanton will return soon, he’s opening eyes.
“He’s good, he’s got good stuff,” Charlie Manuel said following his teams 20th victory of the year. “He keeps his composure and stays focused on what he’s doing.”
While Worley himself said he can’t worry about the things he cannot control, such as Blanton’s imminent return to the rotation, he’s clearly proving to everyone he belongs.
Former Phillies Matt Stairs came to the plate in the bottom of the ninth and roped a Danys Baez offering into right field 100th career pinch hit. He’s now tied with Rusty Staub for 18th all-time on the pinch hits list.
Worley held former Long Beach State University teammate Danny Espinosa to 0-for-3 on the night. He did hit his friend with a pitch in the sixth inning and said after the game he’d text him to see how he felt. Espinosa got payback in the ninth with a home run off of Danys Baez.
Tomorrow: John Lannan vs. Roy Halladay