It was a pitchers’ duel in the afternoon shadows at the Bank. Chris Wheeler described today as a “Mr. Magoo game”, compounding the difficulty for hitters to hit off of aces Cliff Lee and Josh Johnson. Both aces pitched seven strong innings, but the Phillies emerged victorious on the back of clutch hitting, including a two-out, two-run seventh inning Jimmy Rollins home run. The Phils’ 3-1 win puts them above .500 for the first time since June 3, is their seventh straight, completes a sweep against the Marlins, and a 6-0 homestand.
UnbeLEEvable Second Half
Entering the game, Lee sported a second-half 2.90 ERA, with 70 Ks in 77.2 IP in 11 starts. Lee delivered again in the second half, going seven with six Ks, throwing 107 pitches, with an unearned run. Lee left with the game tied for the sixth time this season and picked up his fifth win. Lee’s ERA has dropped to 3.36 in the victory. Remember when the talk radio stations were criticizing Lee for his won/loss mark? Yikes.
Missed Opportunity Early
John Mayberry Jr. and Domonic Brown led off the second with consecutive walks. Erik Kratz, Michael Martinez, and Cliff Lee were unable to drive them home. With Johnson’s early dominance, it looked like this may have been the Phils’ only opportunity.
Errors Nearly Haunt Lee
The Marlins capitalized on a bobbled ball by Jimmy Rollins in the sixth, followed in the next play by an errant throw to the second base bag by Lee. With two on and one out, Carlos Lee drove in Donovan Solano to plate their only run.
Phils Finally Hit Johnson in Sixth, Deliver With Two Outs
Rollins broke up Josh Johnson’s no-hit bid when he led off the sixth for the Phils. Js hnson had retired 12 in a row and 15 of 18 before Rollins hit a hard ground ball between Miami first baseman Lee and second baseman Solano. Rollins was pushed over to second on a Juan Pierre sacrifice bunt. Mayberry brought home J-Rol on a hard hit line drive to center off of Johnson. Mayberry is now hitting .293/.367/.489 since assuming the role of every-day center fielder on August 1.
Orr Starts Rally in Seventh, Young James Finishes It… With Two Outs
Clutch hitting won the Phillies this game. Pete Orr pinch hit for Lee with two outs in the seventh and singled to nearly the exact same spot as Rollins did just an inning prior. Orr stole second. Rollins continued his hot streak with his 19th home run, smashing a Johnson fastball that was right over the plate to right field. Rollins entered the game hitting .304/.352/.532, with six doubles and four HRs in the Phils’ last 20. Not coincidentally, the Phils’ were 14-6 in their last 20 – contributions from Rollins and Mayberry have certainly been a major factor.
Bullpen Shuts the Door
What more can be said about Phillippe Aumont? In nine appearances, Aumont now has 9 Ks in 8.1 IP. Aumont struck out slugger Mike Stanton with Jose Reyes at first and seems to have ice in his veins on the mound. Aumont was locating his secondary pitch, his late breaking curve, and was not afraid to use his dangerous change-up. He has been as advertised and has helped to stabilize a shaky ‘pen. Jonathan Papelbon started the ninth by hitting Austin Kearns on the forearm, but then downed John Buck and Greg Dobbs swinging. Papelbon walked Bryan Petersen before striking out Gorkys Hernandez to lower his ERA to 2.45 and rack up his 34th save.
The Phillies are now over .500 for the first time since June 3. They head to Houston to start a four game set with the Astros with their Wild Card hopes now brighter than ever. Pending the outcome of the Padres/Cardinals game, the Phillies are now just 3.5 games back. The Phillies can make up major ground this weekend as the Cardinals will play the Dodgers, who the Phils now sit 2.5 games behind.