So Taguchi couldn't have been happier last night at Shea Stadium.
He finally got a hit.
And a big one, too.
“I am a small part,” he said. “It’s not me. It’s the team.”
But his bases-loaded double in the top of the ninth inning helped the Phillies to an improbable 8-6 victory over the New York Mets, who entered the three-game series tied with the Phillies for first place in the National League East. Taguchi, who led the majors with a .407 average as a pinch-hitter last season with the St. Louis Cardinals, snapped an 0-for-16 streak as a pinch-hitter this season with the Phillies. His performance at the plate and some struggles in the outfield had buried him deep on Charlie Manuel's bench.
So deep that Taguchi had just five at-bats in June and just four at-bats in July. So deep that Manuel has been using Eric Bruntlett as Pat Burrell's late-inning defensive replacement.
"That was a big for So," Manuel said. "I've known So can hit. But at the same time he needed to hit, and it's been hard to get him playing time because of our outfield situation."
Jim Salisbury talked with Pat Gillick before last night's game about what's ahead before the July 31 trade deadline. Brian Fuentes? Maybe. Matt Holliday? Stop dreaming.
Joe Blanton didn't pitch as poorly as his line indicated. Carlos Delgado should have been struck out on a 0-2 pitch in the third inning, but he checked his swing (even though replay showed otherwise). Delgado eventually golfed a breaking ball out of the ballpark for a two-run homer.
In the Phillies Notebook: Brett Myers kept quiet a night before his first start since June 27, Kris Benson probably won't help the Phillies this season and Charlie Manuel isn't changing his philosophy about Pat Burrell.
The Mets haven't blown a three-run lead in the ninth inning since Sept. 20 last season against the Marlins, when they were busy choking away the NL East title. ... Greg Dobbs had his big-league leading 19th pinch-hit in the ninth inning. That is the most pinch-hits for a Phillie since Greg Gross had 19 in 1982. ...Brad Lidge has converted 25-straight save opportunities, which goes back to Sept. 25 last season with the Houston Astros. That ties Lidge's career best. He has coverted 22-straight save opportunities with the Phillies, which ties Billy Wagner for most consecutive saves in a single season.