We’ve said this many times this year, but last night was an especially sweet “Welcome Back” for J-Roll. Not only because he had two hits and an RBI in the 12-2 rout of the hapless Pittsburgh Pirates, but also because of what he means to this lineup.
The Phillies won plenty of games with Jimmy out of the lineup, but you could tell that, for the players, it wasn’t the same. Ryan Howard seemed to not have his swagger, which he always had whether he was hot or cold at the plate. Up and down the lineup, it just seemed as if the batters were pressing, and trying to make something happen to compensate for the loss of their prolific leadoff hitter. Yeah that’s right, I called J-Roll a PROLIFIC lead-off hitter.
Well last night may have been a blast off point for a nice hot-streak at the plate. Ryan Howard recorded 6 RBIs: 2 on a two out, bases-loaded single in the third inning, and a grand slam in the 8th. Howard now has 9 grannies in his career, adding to his Phillies record. Jayson Werth continues to mash the ball no matter who is in the lineup with him, as he went 2-5 with four RBIs on a homer in the 3rd and a double in the 7th. Werth now has a MLB leading 20 doubles on the year so far.
And let’s not forget about Chooch Ruiz making his return from a short stint on the bench since last week with a knee issue. Ruiz went 1-4 with a run, and helped Kendrick navigate through a surprisingly effective Pirates lineup all night.
Speaking of which, who could forget little Kyle Kendrick? What can you say about the little guy, except for ‘what can I say?’ After giving up a leadoff homerun to Delwyn Young, KK settled in to pitch eight solid innings, giving up 2 runs and scattering 5 hits. It was his second quality start in his last 3 outings. Maybe he really is turning a corner. Everyone talks about the 2008 Cole Hamels… what about the 2007 Kyle Kendrick??
It almost seems unfair to trot Roy Halladay out today to face the Pirates for the second game of this short series. With Rollins, Chooch, and hopefully Utley (who sat out last night with flu-like symptons) back in the lineup, and Halladay on the hill, one almost has to feel bad about it.
The important thing, though, is that with Rollins returning from the DL, the Phillies got their groove back.