As Charlie Manuel would say of the warm night in St. Louis, “Tonight was hittin’ weather.” And, oh, how true that would prove to be. Both teams would combine to score 19 total runs with 33 hits in a slug fest that found the Phillies outlasting the Cardinals by a score of 10-9.
FAST START FOR PHILS BATS
– As Ian Riccaboni wrote earlier today, Placido Polanco has had an offensive renaissance of sorts, getting hot at the end of April and continuing it into May. He’d get things started tonight for the Phils, starting off the top of the first with a one-out double. The early momentum with the hit would lead to a four-run inning for the Phillies, who would bat around, forcing Jake Westbrook to throw 39 pitches before recording the final out. Their patience led to two walks in the inning.
– After driving in one run in the first, Shane Victorino would drive in two more in the second to make it 6-0 nothing early. Much like Polanco, Victorino has started to get going at the plate after a slow start. He’s now hitting .312 in the month of May with an OPS approaching .900. He’s had 12 extra-base hits in that span, compared to just four XBHs during the month of April. He is currently 11 for his last 25 at-bats (.444).
– Most impressive about the Phillies quick start was the fact that five of their six runs came with two outs. Despite their offensive inconsistencies, scoring two-outs run is not something new for the Phillies this season. On the night, all but two of their runs would come with two outs, including the run they’d score in the fifth and the two they’d tack on in the sixth. Coming into tonight, they ranked seventh in the majors in two-out runs and fourth in the N.L. With tonight’s game, close to half their runs–88-of-188, to be exact–have come with two outs.
RED BIRDS BATTER BLANTON
– Coming off his worst start of the season against Boston, Joe Blanton was given some breathing room when he was spotted a six-run lead early. But even that wouldn’t be enough against a potent Cardinals offense, and we may have a new winner as far as Blanton’s worst start of the season goes.
– Here’s the damage: 4.1 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 1 BB, 5 SO, 2 HR.
– Though he found himself in trouble in all but one of his 4+ innings, Blanton allowed all seven earned runs in the third and fifth innings. He would get burned in the third when he allowed Cardinals’ starter Jake Westbrook to lead off the inning with a single to left. The lead-off hit would open the door for the Cardinals to put up a four-run. In the fifth, he’d allow the Cardinals to tie it with a solo home run by Matt Holliday and a two-run home run by Yadier Molina.
– After starting the year off very well, Blanton has notched two porous starts in a row. I didn’t expect Blanton to maintain the 2.81 ERA he had as a starter before the Boston game, but it did seem like he was throwing better than ever, keeping the ball low in the zone and commanding his fastball on both sides of the plate. Tonight, like in the Red Sox game, he got away from that, getting the ball up in the zone on a lot of pitches. It certainly didn’t help him that half of the fly balls he threw left the ballpark and that he only stranded 48.8% of base runners, but he just wasn’t great tonight. There is a silver lining: Blanton struck out five batters in his 4+ innings. But that number offers little solace in the grand scheme of things. The real solace comes in the fact that the Phils won the game.
GALVIS GETS BIG JOE OFF THE HOOK
– Say what you want about his statistics–and I agree there’s a lot of concerning things in the numbers–but Freddy Galvis seems to have a knack for getting a big hit in a bit spot. He did it again tonight. This time, the hit came in the sixth. Right after watching the Cardinals come back to tie it at seven, Galvis came to the plate with runners on first and second and two out. He fought off a tough change-up, serving it into shallow center field and bringing Victorino around to score. It was another clutch hit from the 22-year old Galvis, who had three RBI on the night, and is quickly building his reputation as a guy who likes the spotlight. Mike Fontenot would follow with a pinch-hit single to give the Phillies a 9-7 lead after Blanton blew their initial margin.
BULLPEN DOES THE JOB
– After Raul Valdes was able to get two outs in relief of Blanton in the fifth inning, Chad Qualls came in and threw a 1-2-3 sixth. In a decision some thought imprudent, Charlie Manuel decided to send Qualls out for the seventh. After retiring the first two hitters he faced, he allowed a mammoth of a home run to David Freese to cut it to 9-8. A Yadier Molina single followed, and that brought Jake Diekman through the bullpen door. The Diek retired Matt Adams to end the inning.
– After a Ty Wigginton eighth-inning home run made it 10-8, Phils, Antonio Bastardo came on to pitch the bottom of the eighth. He’d work himself into a first and third jam with one out and Skip Schumaker at the plate. After a tough battle at the plate, Schumaker hit a long fly ball to left to score a run and make it 10-9. Bastardo would walk the next batter, before striking out Carlos Beltran to end the inning. Phillies fans all over unclenched their fists and wiped massive amounts of sweat from their brows as Bastardo walked back to the dugout. It wasn’t pretty, but Bastardo was able to escape with the lead intact.
– Jonathan Papelbon did his thing in the ninth, allowing one hit, but ultimately slamming the door to preserve the victory and remain perfect on the season. He has now saved 13 games.
– Tonight’s game marks the second time this season a Phillies starter has blown a six-run lead. The first time came on May 2nd, when Roy Halladay uncharacteristically squandered a six-run lead against the Braves. The Phillies are 1-1 in those games.
– The Phillies continue their four-game set with the Cardinals tomorrow night when Cliff Lee (0-2, 2.66) faces off against former Phillie Kyle Lohse (5-1, 2.91). With two starters who are pitching very well right now on the mound, don’t expect another slug fest like tonight’s game.