I know that when everyone out there thinks of the Philadelphia Phillies most likely hitting home runs, they immediately think of Placido Polanco and Shane Victorino. I know I do. People say (and by people I mean wangs like Chris Wheeler) that baseball is a funny game, that strange occurrences can easily change a definite win into a crushing loss. Personally, I am never sure whey they use the word “funny.” I find nothing “funny” about baseball when the Phillies lose. Lets change funny to psychologically damaging and we are getting a little closer to the truth. Today’s game can fall into the funny category as the Phillies won and I didn’t attempt to throw my television out the window, or challenge any of my neighbors to a fist fight.
The Phillies attempted to salvage a win in the series by sending out Cliff Lee, fresh off of his dismantling of the Washington Nationals with a three hit shut-out. Lee battled through six innings without the benefit of his best stuff. He allowed eight hits and two earned runs while striking out one and walking one. He was lifted in the bottom of the sixth for a pinch hitter with the team trailing 3-0. It is always impressive to see a guy pitch like he did when you know that he didn’t have it all working today. The Phils were still in the game, as long as their suddenly awful offense could provide some sort of spark.
The Phillies came into the game having struggled to score in this series. The disconcerting part about their drought has been the opposition. The Brewers are not exactly the 63′ Dodgers as they threw out Shawn Marcum, Randy Wolf and Chris Narverson. All three are established major league pitchers, but none of the three could be considered aces. Narverson took the hill for the Brewers in the final game of the series. He, like Wolf before him, is a middle of the road left handed pitcher with a 85 MPH fastball a good change and an above average curveball. He looked really good for six innings today, allowing only a one out double to John Mayberry Jr. It looked like the Phils would be unable to solve the left hander until a Wilson Valdez walk to start the sixth. Valdez was started to avoid the double play and Shane Victorino singled into the area vacated by Rickie Weeks. Polonco followed by hitting a 1-2 cutter over the left field fence. Placido Polonco has been the oasis of not sucking in a desert of grounding out weekly to the shortstop. The power is unexpected, but you know that you will get solid at bats from Polly.
Kyle Kendrick relieved Lee and didn’t get shelled. I believe that it is important to offer Kyle positive affirmations before he is permanently sent back to AAA. The score remained tied into the bottom of the eighth inning when Shane Victorino stepped to the plate. He absolutely crushed a fastball from Brandon Kintzler into the bullpen over the center field fence. This does beg the question as to why anyone would throw a fastball to anyone on the Phillies right now. Regardless, Kintzler did and the Phillies had their first lead of the game at 4-3.
Jose Contreras entered the game to close out the 4-3 lead. The last person that anyone wanted to see in a close game was Ryan Braun. With a clean inning, Contreras could escape seeing the hottest hitter in the Milwaukee line-up. A one out single from Rickie Weeks gave Braun the opportunity to bat representing the winning run. Contreras fell behind Braun 3-1, but battled back to strike him out ending the game and earning his fourth save in four opportunities. Ryan Madson pitched a scoreless eighth to earn the win.
This feels a ton better than a 9-0 loss. The next series sends the Phils to San Diego so get ready to stay up late. Oswalt versus Latos at 10:05.