The Phillies needed a win to avoid a sweep in Pittsburgh. Huh? The Phillies and Pirates used to occupy the same division and used to knock the living shit out of each other. Now, the Pirates have left the NL East for the Central and have been terrible for nearly the last twenty years. The Phillies are a good baseball team. The Pirates are clawing their way toward mediocrity, but remain a not so good baseball team. A good baseball team struggles against a bad baseball team. This is not the 1971 Roberto Clemente led Pirates, this is the haven’t finished with an above .500 record in nineteen years Pirates. Is there some sort of rational explanation? No, but it is frustrating as hell.
Roy Halladay was saddled with the task of stopping a four game losing streak. Roy Halladay is completely and unequivocally a bad ass. He is not a flash in the pan reclamation project that is unexpectedly having a solid season. It is no surprise that today’s victory upped his record to 8-3. Doc went seven innings, allowed two runs, walked one and struck out six in a more dominant than it looks performance this afternoon. The two runs came from a first inning home run by Neil Walker.
The past few games have introduced us to the idea of watching borderline major league pitchers morph into members of the 1963 Dodgers. Luckily, James McDonald looked more like Dick Weik* than Sandy Koufax. McDonald walked five and gave up three hits in five innings. He was lucky to escape only allowing three runs. In the top of the fourth McDonald issued two walks, hit a batter and was saved by the umpire’s inability to get out of the way of a Domonic Brown liner. He entered the top of the fifth, promptly walked the bases loaded before giving way to way to Chris Resop.
Thank God that James McDonald was terrible. It was nice to see all those baserunners. Ryan Howard and Domonic Brown came inches from hitting grand slams and Brown narrowly missed another home run in the top of the seventh. Chase Utley went 3-5 and Ryan Howard went 2-4 with three RBIs. For the first time in a long time, there were some positives for the offense. They scored seven runs and pounded out fourteen hits. A 7-3 victory that very well could have been a 15-3 drubbing, but I think everyone will take it.
The Phillies take on left hander Ted Lilly and the Los Angeles Dodgers as Cliff Lee attempts to atone for his last start against Washington.
* Dick Weik was a pitcher for the Washington Senators and the Detroit Tigers. He carried a 6-22 record with 237 walks in 213 2/3 innings of work. He also had 19 wild pitches. He was not very good.