Bad umpiring, bad base running, and questionable decision-making was the story of the night, as Joe Blanton’s solid was wasted in a loss to the Houston Astros, who used an eighth inning rally to best the Phillies, 3-2.
Blanton, whose seven inning, one run, nine strikout performance was his best to date, received very little in run support from the Phils, who scraped together only two runs off Brett Myers, who was every bit Blanton’s equal.
The play (or plays) that made the difference came in the top of the eighth, with the Phils leading, 2-1. With Ryan Madson on the hill and a runner at first with none away, Michael Bourn dropped a bunt down the first base line. Ryan Howard fielded it and dove at Bourn, who was veering to his right to avoid the tag.
Replays would indicate that Howard likely tagged Bourn, who may have been out of the baseline anyway. More on that tomorrow.
One sacrifice bunt and a strikeout later, Ryan Madson faced off against Carlos Lee, who broke his bat on an inside fastball, but blooped one to left field to score two runs, giving the Astros the lead, and eventually, the win.
The Phils had their share of mental gaffes on the night, with the first coming in the bottom of the sixth when Jayson Werth was picked off of second base after the Astros had intentionally walked Ruiz. Werth, who was lazily drifting off the bag, never noticed the catcher casually throwing to the shortstop who was covering the bag.
The next, and perhaps biggest, occurred in the bottom of the ninth. With Carlos Ruiz on first and none away, the Phils elected to stay with Wilson Valdez, who had started the game at third, over a pinch hitter. So Valdez, who was bunting, popped it up right to the first baseman.
In sports, there is always time for being a second guesser, but in this instance, you;d be absolutely right to. With the tying run at first, the odds of getting that run home increase tremendously with Placido Polanco, instead of Wilson Valdez, swinging the bat. Nothing can ever be assumed, but damn it all if the Phillies didn’t goof themselves out of a win.
They’ll look to turn their fortune around on Tuesday, when Cole Hamels (7-10, 3.51) squares off against Bud Norris (6-7, 5.23).
Joe Blanton (ND) allowed one earned run on six hits in seven innings. He struck out nine.
Jimmy Rollins went 2 for 5 with a run.
Chase Utley went 1 for 4 with an RBI.
Carlos Ruiz went 1 for 2 with a homer (6) and an RBI.
Ryan Madson (BS, 4; L, 4-2) allowed two runs on three hits in one inning. He struck out one.
Brett Myers (W, 9-7) allowed two runs on nine hits in seven innings. He walked one and struck out nine.
Michael Bourn went 3 for 4 with two runs.
Carlos Lee went 2 for 4 with a double (23) and two RBIs.
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