Jun 15, 2009

Come On, Get Happ - y

Sunday, June 14, 2009
Boston Red Sox @ Philadelphia Phillies
Citizens Bank Park - Philadelphia, PA

Pitching: Josh Beckett vs. J.A. Happ
Results: Phillies defeated Red Sox, 11-6

The last stop on the way home from our Atlantic City vacation was Citizens Bank Park to see an afternoon interleague game between the Phillies and Red Sox.  I haven't had the chance to see the Red Sox play before today, so with this game, I got to check one more team off of my list.

It was an absolutely beautiful day at the ballpark - bright and sunny and about 75 degrees with a warm breeze.  The place was packed with a paid attendance over 45,000 to see a game between two teams that more than a few publications have predicted to meet in the World SeriesBoston is on top of the AL East and the Phillies have a comfortable lead over the Mets in the NL East, so this may very well end up being a preview of things to come this October.
The matching powder blue was completely by accident.
The Phillies dropped the first two games of the series and we were relying on the newest member of the rotation, J.A. Happ to prevent the sweep.  Happ recently bumped Chan Ho Park to the bullpen to take over at the back end of the rotation.  The left handed rookie has been impressive so far, and this may have been his biggest test at the big league level at this point in his career.

Happ struggled a bit against the Boston lineup.  He went 5 ⅔ and gave up five runs on six hits and six walks and only struck out three.  Three of the runs he gave up were solo homers, including back-to-back homers to Rocco Baldelli and Nick Green to lead off a difficult 2nd inning, and a third solo home run to opposing pitcher Josh Beckett to lead off the top of the 6th.  Giving up a home run to a pitcher is bad enough, but giving one up to an American League pitcher is an especially bitter pill to swallow.

Thankfully for Happ, the Phillies offense kept the pressure on Josh Beckett.  The 2003 World Series MVP gave up the first run of the game in the bottom of the 1st after three straight singles by Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth.

Beckett settled in and held the Phillies hitless over the next three innings, but the Phillies put together a rally in the bottom of the 5th.  Pedro Feliz and Chris Coste led off the inning with back-to-back singles.  Happ laid down a sacrifice bunt to give the Phillies runners on 2nd and 3rd with one out.  Jimmy Rollins grounded out to score Feliz from 3rd and Shane Victorino singled to right filed to allow Coste to score.  Chase Utley singled and the runners advanced to 2nd and 3rd on a throwing error.  Then, Ryan Howard doubled to right field to score two more runs and give the Phillies a 5-4 lead.  The Big Piece followed this up by stealing 3rd base with Jayson Werth at the plate, but Werth lined out to end the inning.

The Phillies broke the game open in the bottom of the 7th.  With the score tied at 5-5, Jimmy Rollins led off the inning with a solo home run to deep right field to give the Phillies a 6-5 lead.  Victorino singled next to knock Beckett out of the game.

He was replaced by Daniel Bard, who walked the first batter he faced (Utley).  Howard hit into a forceout at 2nd base, but Victorino scored from 3rd on a throwing error.  Werth doubled and Greg Dobbs struck out to bring Pedro Feliz to the plate with two outs and runners at the corners.  Feliz doubled to score Howard and WerthBard intentionally walked Chris Coste to load the bases, which was a solid strategy with the pitchers spot in the lineup due up next.  Fortunately for the Phillies, he walked Chan Ho Park too.  Giving up a walk to the opposing pitcher to load the bases might not be as bad as giving up a home run, but I certainly wouldn't call it good.  Terry Francona must not have thought so either, because he pulled Bard and brought in Takashi Saito to try to record the last out of the inning.

Saito didn't have much more success than Bard.  In his second plate appearance of the inning, Jimmy Rollins was plunked by a pitch with the bases loaded to score Feliz from third.  He then walked Victorino to score another run before finally striking out Utley to end the 7th inning with the Phillies up 11-5.

After giving up a home run to Josh Beckett in the top of the 5th, Happ walked Julio Lugo before getting Jacoby Ellsbury to ground into a double play.  With his pitch count already at 108, Charlie pulled Happ for Chan Ho Park, who got Kevin Youkilis to ground out to end the inning.

Park was effective in this outing.  He went 2 ⅓ and gave up one unearned run on two hits and a walk, and he struck out three.  The run came when George Kottaras hit a double to lead off the top of the 8th, and he advanced to third on an Eric Bruntlett error in left field.  David Ortiz came in to pinch hit and walked to put runners on the corners with no outs, and Julio Lugo hit a sac fly to score Kottaras from 3rd.  It was the last run the Red Sox would score in the game. 

Ryan Madson was brought in to close out the game in the 9th.  Mike Lowell and Nick Green singled off of him, but he got Jason Bay, Mark Kotsay and George Kottaras to line out to end the game and give the Phillies an 11-6 victory.

So, the Phillies salvaged the third game of the series with a win over the Red Sox, and the late, great Harry Kalas sent us all off with a song.

This was the perfect end to a great end-of-semester vacation, and now I need a long nap.