Here’s a game story with quotes. You might have noticed that this one went on a bit long, and the presses stopped running by the time I got down to the clubhouse.
By Andy Martino
INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
The road has been good to the Phillies, and the Phillies have been good on the road. But their mysterious home issues have returned, and they fell to Boston 11-6 last night.
Over the past two weeks, the team cruised through San Diego, Los Angeles and New York, winning seven of ten and padding their 23-9 record when away from Philadelphia.
They strutted back to Citizens Bank Park Friday, in first place and looking sharp. Though they were just 12-14 at home this season, those issues seemed a distant memory. Two losses later, the questions have returned. Take away the Phils’ six games (5-1) against Washington at Citizens Bank, and they would be 7-15 in front of a friendly crowd.
Early last night, they looked nothing like the team that recently dominated on the road. The game began with sloppy play in rainy conditions, and with a letdown for starter Antonio Bastardo, who has struggled to command his secondary pitches in two wins. Those holes helped facilitate Bastardo’s falloff last night, as he surrendered five runs, four earned, in one inning, before a 95-minute rain delay ended his night. He was not helped by his defense, which in one inning cashed in all the stored-up ugliness not spent on the road.
“We had a rough inning,” said manager Charlie Manuel. “We had a little shaky defense and gave up five runs. That’s going to happen sometimes.”
After retiring leadoff hitter Dustin Pedroia on one pitch, Bastardo walked Jacoby Ellsbury. With Kevin Youkilis batting, Ellsbury stole second; he took third when catcher Carlos Ruiz’s throw sailed just wide of Chase Utley’s glove and into the outfield.
Bastardo hit Youkilis, then attempted to pick him off first. Ryan Howard dropped the throw, allowing Ellsbury to score. The first baseman’s attention then seemed to drift as he held the ball in foul territory, and an alert Youkilis rushed to third. The extra base was rendered moot, though, when Jason Bay hit an 87-m.p.h. fastball into centerfield for a two-run home run.
The inning continued for the Phils when Mike Lowell sent a drive to the warning track in left-center; Raul Ibanez took an indirect route to the ball, which fell for a double. Bastardo then walked Rocco Baldelli.
Batting with two on and two out and rain blowing through the stadium, Julio Lugo drove a pitch to shallow center. The ball bounced once in front of Shane Victorino, then rolled through the outfielder’s legs. Two runs scored on the error, a fitting end to the inning’s strange and ugly scoring.
“(Bastardo’s) location was off tonight,” said catcher Carlos Ruiz. “He was leaving the ball up a lot…long night, but it’s over.”
After the extended delay, the Phils emerged with new energy, and seemed to recover their typical crispness. They scored their first run in the third with a pair of two-out doubles by Victorino and Utley. Ibanez made it 5-2 with fourth-inning homer, his 22nd, and Pedro Feliz hit a two-run shot after Jayson Werth singled. But Jack Taschner allowed three in the fifth, allowing the Red Sox to build another lead.
The Phillies did not allow Boston to embarrass them after the first, and they remained close. Victorino made an excellent running catch with the bases loaded and two out in the fifth on a Kevin Youkilis drive, saving Taschner from a disastrous inning.
Werth singled in Utley in the fifth to make the score 8-5, but Boston continued to pull away against the Phils bullpen. Ellsbury and Bay drove in runs in the seventh, though Werth made it 10-6 with a solo homer in the bottom of the inning. In the end, the Phillies exhibited two qualities they have shown all season—persistence and trouble at home—though the latter proved stronger than the former last night.
Just a heads-up, I’ll be working on something Phillies-related that will keep me away from the ballpark for several days, so blog posts will be infrequent....but one morning update: The Phils have sent down Sergio Escalona and recalled RHP Tyler Walker from Lehigh.