Monday, September 14, 2009

Phillies: A Great Day for Two


In the sentiments of Hall-of-Famer Ernie Banks, yesterday turned out to be a great day for two for the Phillies. Winning a day, night doubleheader against the rival Mets on a day that the Marlins lost and the surging Braves won again had a very big impact on their playoff prospects.

The Phillies used two strong starting pitching performances to enable the delayed sweep. In the afternoon game, it was Kyle Kendrick making a spot start due to J.A. Happ being injured and responding with 7 shutout innings before allowing a 2-run homer in the 8th. After Tyler Walker turned in another solid effort to quiet any further damage in that inning, Brad Lidge gave what is now seemingly becoming the obligatory high wire closer act. He yielded 2 runs on 3 hits, but registered a game ending strikeout to preserve the win. Shane Victorino and Ben Francisco led the offense, each collecting two hits and a home run.

In the nightcap, Pedro Martinez turned in another amazing performance, shutting out the Mets on six hits over 8 innings. The most astonishing aspect was that he threw 130 pitches as he battled to preserve a narrow 1-0 lead. Once again, he used an array of 88-92 mph fastballs moving in a variety of directions, an occasional curve and quite a few diving change-ups. The effort earned him his 5th victory in 5 decisions after Ryan Madson pitched a relatively tame 9th inning to earn the save.

The Phillies only run against long-time nemesis Tim "ZZ Top" Redding came on Chase Utley's single high off the left-center field fence in the first inning. Jimmy Rollins had walked to open the inning and Victorino followed with a single, but a Rollins' base running miscue found him having to race home while the other two could only take one base. Fortunately, Martinez made it a moot point with his sparkling effort.

Pedro has been a great addition, both on the field and in the clubhouse. He seems to be staking his case to take the ball in the playoffs if the Phillies can take care of business. Martinez, the fans and players are all thoroughly enjoying the contributions that he is making to the team's success and his ongoing demonstration of the art of pitching.

Scratching out a couple of one run victories turned out to be very beneficial for their playoff aspirations. It allowed them to widen the lead against the surging Marlins back to 6.5 games. It also kept the Braves 7.5 games back after they swept the red hot Cardinals in a 3-game weekend series. Ironically, although they were surely spiritually eliminated a long time ago, Martinez's win mathematically eliminated his former Mets teammates from the 2009 playoffs.

No comments:

Post a Comment