Sunday, December 28, 2014

That's why they play 9 innings

That's why they play 9 innings

Brad Lidge and Carlos Ruiz celebrate after the final out in the Phillies´ 7-4 win. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Brad Lidge and Carlos Ruiz celebrate after the final out in the Phillies' 7-4 win. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

THEY SCORED seven runs without any consecutive hits. 

They completed their comeback against Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman, who amid a messy three-run seventh inning in which he allowed two bloop hits, struck out Ryan Howard with three consecutive fastballs — 100, 99 and 101 mph.

There is no real theme to Friday night’s 7-4 Phillies victory over the Reds except for this. You keep playing. Play to the last out, reach base, by hook and yes, by crook. 

No one is sure whether Chase Utley was hit by Chapman’s 0-2 101-mph pitch. Scott Rolen is quite sure he threw to get the force at second base that inning, but umpire Ed Rapuano didn’t see it that way. Jay Bruce didn’t see much of anything on Jimmy Rollins’ sinking line drive in the seventh that shot past his glove, and with it the Cincinnati Reds’ chance to flip this short series on its ear.

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Instead, the Phillies scored two runs on the play to take the lead and went on to win Game 2 of their National League Division Series, rallying from a 4-0 hole, taking advantage of four Reds errors, three hit batsmen and six walks — and overcoming some ugly baseball of their own.

When I picked the Phillies to win in five games before this series began, I did so because of scenarios that unfolded over the first four innings last night:

One or two of the H2O aces not quite up to snuff.

The loose wire that ignites the Phillies’ offense shorting out again, and at the most inopportune times.

And the Cincinnati Reds acting like the powerball offense that led the NL in numerous offensive categories and propelled them to their first division title in more than a decade.

Yes, it helped that Bronson Arroyo was on top of his game for the first four innings, keeping Phillies hitters off-balance with an array of offspeed stuff and an 89-mph fastball he was able to locate most of the time. But it was clear after the game’s first batter, Brandon Phillips, crushed a 2-1 slider deep into the leftfield seats, that this game would have little resemblance to Roy Halladay’s no-hit opener.

Phillips blast broke the Reds 30-inning scoreless streak at Citizens Bank Park, dating back to that four-game Phillies sweep before the All-Star break.

The Reds scored single runs in four of the five innings Roy Oswalt pitched. Two throwing errors by Utley allowed the second, Bruce hit another no-doubter to rightfield in the fourth, and Phillips scored the fourth run on Joey Votto’s sacrifice fly after doubling for his third hit to lead off the fifth inning.

It sure looked bleak at that point. Then the fun began.
 

Sam Donnellon Daily News Sports Columnist
About this blog
Donnellon's career began in Biddeford, Me., in 1981, and has included stops in Wilkes-Barre, Norfolk, and New York, where he worked as a national writer for the short-lived but highly acclaimed National Sports Daily. He has received state and national awards at each stop and since joining the Daily News in 1992 has been honored by the Associated Press Sports Editors, the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association, the National Association of Black Journalists, the Associated Press Managing Editors of Pennsylvania and the Keystone Awards. He and his wife of 26 years have raised three fine children, none of whom are even the least bit impressed with the above. E-mail Sam at donnels@phillynews.com
Reach Sam at donnels@phillynews.com.

Sam Donnellon Daily News Sports Columnist
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