Yes, it has come to the point where any win is special, even a laugher that turned into a nail biter.
Even another game where the bull pen almost coughed up a comfortable lead. (The key word in this case being ‘almost.’)
Even a game where manager Charlie Manuel’s only option was to call on his closer for a five-out save.
But there were some ‘special’ things about last night’s game and in a season where most mornings I’ve been forced to write about what went wrong, today’s post will be devoted to what went right.
And let’s start with that aforementioned crazy closer. One of the hidden losses of this season is that we really haven’t gotten to know Jonathan Papelbon. But from what I’ve seen, to know him is to love him.
I love that he plays with emotion, staring down the opposition and pumping his fist after getting a big out.
I love that at the All-Star Game, when interviewed, all Pap really wanted to talk about was Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz making his first All-Star appearance. He talked about how deserving Chooch was and how he had carried this Phillies team all year.
And I love that the first thing Papelbon did after getting the final out in that All Star game, was throw his arm around his catcher, tell him what an honor it was to pitch to him and say now that the fun was over they needed to get back to Philadelphia and right the ship.
And to top it off, I really love the fact that Pap put his money where his mouth was, getting the final five outs last night, a rarity in this era of high-paid closers who rarely pitch more than one innng.
It was extremely heartening to see the Phillies offense pick up this struggling (to put it kindly) bull pen. (I know, I know, no talk about the bull pen in a post I promised would be positive.)
OK, let me try this one again.
There have been too many games this year where the Phils offense gets off to a great start in the first inning only to forget how to hit for the rest of the game. The opposition then slowly chips away at the lead, until late in the game (when that woeful bull pen I promised not to mention makes its appearance) and all bets are off. It’s like the pen is the opposite of kryptonite to opposition batters. It’s like lifetime .200 hitters all of a sudden turn into Babe Ruth. Its like…(Ok, ok, positive, positive. I’m supposed to be positive. Sorry about that.)
Take three is the charm.
So, it was great to see the Phillies score two runs in the sixth and then when things really got hairy, the offense came through again with three huge runs in the ninth to give Pap (and me!) some breathing room. (See? I knew I could be positive.)
And that’s not all…there’s more!
Watching Vance Worley keep battling last night was another positive especially that big bases loaded strikeout in the bottom of the fifth. It was Worley’s first strikeout of the game and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Yet another highlight was provided by Chooch with his three-run blast in the first. What else can you say about this guy’s season?
Chase Utley and Juan Pierre each had three-hit nights. And by the way, Juan Pierre is another Phillie whose extraordinary season has gone a bit unnoticed. He’s batting .316 and every time I look up, he’s on base. (Hmmmm, sounds like a lead-off hitter to me.)
So there you have it. The Phillies won a game that to be shamefully honest, I thought they would lose. They have a chance today with Cole Hamels on the hill to win the series. And in a post I promised would be positive I won’t say that it may be way too little, way too late. (Oops.)