Saturday, May 23, 2009

Phils beat Yankees, call-up Mayberry, win 6 of last 7

The Phillies have caught fire as of late, especially after taking the first game at the new Yankee Stadium last night, ending New York's nine game winning streak with a 7-3 victory. Last night's game featured just about anything a fan could hope for.

It literally started off with a bang, as Jimmy Rollins continued to show his improved swing by hitting the first pitch of the ballgame into the right field stands. A.J. Burnett glared at Rollins as he circled the basepaths. It's still not evident what Burnett was upset about, as Rollins did not stand and admire his shot and he did not appear to say anything. Burnett drilled Chase Utley up around the should with the next pitch. When Brett Myers took the hill in the bottom of the first, he threw his second pitch behind Derek Jeter, prompting the home plate umpire to warn Myers and both dugouts. Shenanigans over.

Myers needed to respond and he did, but in a smart way. If he hits Jeter, the lead-off hitter reaches base and Myers is in a jam. If Myers throws up and in to send a message, he could slip and hit Jeter in the head. Throwing behind him was the perfect way to send a message and then bear down and get back to pitching well, which he did. Burnett, on the other hand, intentionally hit Utley and dug himself into a hole after Raul Ibanez's single put runners at the corners with no outs. Burnett did pitch out of the jam, but there is no excuse to put yourself into that situation so early in the game. Maybe that's why his ERA is up to 5.28.

Myers pitched a great game, going eight strong innings with five strikeouts and no walks. The fact that he threw strikes was huge, as he allowed three solo home runs, accounting for all of his runs.

The Phils jacked four homers, three off Burnett and one off Chien-Ming Wang. After J-Roll's solo shots, Carlos Chooch Ruiz muscled a two-run shot into the first row of the left-center field bleachers, and Jayson Werth hit a two-run bomb to deep left field. The National League's best hitter thus far, Rauuuuuuul Ibanez, jacked a two-run shot off Wang to cap the scoring in the seventh.

J.A. Happ will make his long anticipated rotation debut this afternoon against Andy Pettite. Tomorrow's pitching match-up is one to marvel, as Cole Hamels toes the rubber against CC Sabathia. I wonder if Shane Victorino will be in the lineup for that game. The Phillies have called John Mayberry Jr. up from Triple-A to serve as designated hitter, likely today and tomorrow. Mayberry could provide a right handed power bat, especially if he hits like he did in spring training.

The series victory in Cincinnati was key for this team. They did something they failed to do during their last homestand: win the series after taking the first game. After beating the Reds in the opener, they dropped the second game, setting up a rubber match on Thursday afternoon. The Phillies rallied, and took the series, which is something all the good teams do. It was also impressive, how the Phillies jumped to a 6-0 lead in that game, and then rallied again to put more runs on the board after Joe Blanton allowed the Reds to score five runs, all in one inning.

The Phillies are showing more heart than they were earlier in the season, and they are getting hot at a good time. The Marlins are playing horrible baseball, and the Mets are playing average. If the Phillies keep it up, they could establish a solid lead in the NL East before the all star break.

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