As the rain clouds rolled in toward South Philly, it looked like an ominous sign for the Phillies and their mini winning streak of 3 games. You could see the sense of urgency in the faces of the team and managers as they sat down 3-2 in an afternoon game as rain drops began to cascade down on the field, lightly at first but steadily increasing. The fear was that the rain would force the umpiring crew to call the game, which would give the Rockies the win. The game was delayed for 1 hour and 39 minutes going into the seventh inning, however, it would resume with one of the great comebacks so far this season for the Phils.
After the delay, in the bottom of the seventh, Wilson Valdez led off the inning with a ground-rule double while pinch hitting for Ryan Madson. Jimmy Rollins, who’s had a flare for the dramatic over the past couple over years, brought the speedy Valdez home for the tying run with a single to center field. He was also able to advance to second after a throwing error by Rockies’ left field Carlos Gonzalez. After Shane Victorino lined out and Placido Polanco grounded out, Jimmy stole third base, which turned out to be one of the biggest steals of the season. Ryan Howard walked to set up the play of the game. With Jayson Werth at the plate and Rockies’ reliever Raphael Betancourt pitching, Jimmy looked like he wanted to steal home as he bounced back and forth during each pitch. He wouldn’t have to attempt a steal however, after a breaking ball from Betancourt bounced on the dirt and then away to the right of catcher Miguel Olivo. Rollins was able to coast home after Olivo inexplicably focused his attention on Ryan Howard at first base as he was retrieving the ball, which made it a 4-3 Phillies lead.
Jose Contreras and J.C. Romero combined for a scoreless eighth inning, and Brad Lidge struck out the side in the ninth for his 9th save of the season. You can say struck out the side, as all three of his outs were strike outs. However, he did load the bases after allowing a single and issuing two walks.
Today’s game also saw the return of young starter J.A. Happ, who returned to the big club after being on the disable list since April. Happ pitched relatively well, pitching five innings and giving up three runs on four hits and four walks. His velocity topped out in the low 90s, however, his location was off all day, as evidence by the number of walks he issued. Nonetheless, Happ’s return is certainly a sight for sore eyes for the team as they try to get healthy for the last two months of the season.
It was a huge win for the Phillies as they continue to ride this little streak they’re on, which sits at 4 games won. The Atlanta Braves lost again today in 11 innings to the Florida Marlins, which cut the Phillies deficit to 5 games in the division.
This four game series vs. the Rockies ends tomorrow afternoon at 1:05 with the home team going for it’s second 4 game series sweep of the season. Joe Blanton will be on the mound for the Phillies, throwing against Jason Hammel for the Rockies.