Unlike the selfish Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley didn’t wait until extra innings to hit his game winning home run. With the game tied at three in the eighth inning, Utley sent a Mike Dunn pitch into the right center field seats for a lead that Jonathan Papelbon was able to preserve.
Utley is off to a blazing start. His three hits on the day raised his batting average to .500(!), and he looks like the player who was once considered the undisputed best second baseman in baseball. Not coincidentally, the Phillies offense has been surprisingly productive in the early part of the season.
Utley’s heroics were set up by a big hit by Wil Nieves earlier in the game. The backup catcher had a two-run double in the fifth that tied the game at three runs apiece. Nieves had three hits on the day, and it looks like the team may have upgraded the position when they signed him in place of Erik Kratz.
On the mound, it wasn’t Kyle Kendrick‘s best showing, but he pitched well enough to keep the Phillies in the game. He surrendered three runs (two earned) in six innings of work. The bullpen supplied three scoreless innings, and Papelbon pitched a clean ninth with what appeared to be increased velocity.
The win completed a sweep of the Marlins. While a sweep over the Marlins may not seem that impressive, it’s certainly better than losing the games. The Phillies season looked like it might be in some trouble after the series against the Brewers (who have continued to play well), but this gave the fans hope that the season might not be a complete disaster.
Perhaps more importantly, it gives them some momentum heading into their first encounter against the National League East leading Atlanta Braves.