Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Phils win 4th straight, Ibanez comes through again

The Phils won their fourth straight game last night, defeating the Nationals in a wild 13-11 game. In a game that featured seven home runs, the Phillies made their two count, hitting two grand slams. Ryan Howard hit a game tying slam in the 5th, and Raul Ibanez hit a bases loaded jack to put the Phils in front in the 8th. The last two Phillies to hit a grand slam in the same game: Jason Michaels and Tomas Perez.

I've developed a man crush on Ibanez. He is the best clutch hitter playing for this team in about as long as I can remember, he plays the game the right way and simply delivers every night. He's played a very solid left field, he's hitting .342, he's already slugged six long balls, a few of which were game winners, and he even has three stolen bases and a perfect stealing percentage.

While their offense is starting to come alive, pitching remains a major concern. The starting pitchers are occasionally keeping the team in the game, but far too often the offense has to battle back to win the game. Sunday's victory over the fish marked the first game this season that the Phillies won without playing from behind. Joe Blanton was flat-out terrible last night, after a spectacular first inning. Lou Marson was setting up on the outside corner, and Blanton was throwing it belt-high, right down the middle of the plate. He gave up some absolute blasts, and he needs to make adjustments before taking the mound for his next start.

The bullpen is a whole other demon to the team so far. A major strength last season, they've been plagued by inconsistency in the early going and it really seems like a different reliever blows it every game. Last night was Scott Eyre's turn; after entering the game without allowing a run or even a hit this season, he didn't record an out, allowing four runs on two hits, three walks and two long home runs.

A game like last night is what separates the Phils from most other teams in baseball. You can see the wind come out of a team's sails when something like this happens late in a game that they had already battled back in three times. The Phillies have done this before though, and they rallied for their fourth comeback of the game. Falling behind actually seems to make the Phils focus more, not become discouraged, which is one of the most valuable thing a team can have. Ryan Madson followed the eight inning rally with a tremendous ninth to close out the game.

1 comment:

  1. I <3 Ryan.

    Ps-- If you propose to Ibanez before me I'm gonna be pissssssed.