The Phillies take on the Mets tonight in just a few minutes, fighting for control of the NL East. The Mets have had the upper hand thus far but the Phillies come into the series hot, having swept the Dodgers in four games. Jamie Moyer (11-7, 3.54) takes on Pedro Martinez (4-3, 4.97) in a battle of aging pitchers. The difference? Moyer has aged like fine wine while Martinez has aged like cheap beer. Of course when the Phillies play the Mets, all bets are off. We'll see what's in store.
7:10: Not a good start for Moyer, as Reyes hits a long fly ball over Victorino's head for a lead-off triple. Damion Easley follows with a single, giving the Mets a 1-0 lead.
7:20: Moyer goes inside and Delgado is awarded first on a phantom HBP. That loads the bases for Fernando Tatis. Tatis hits a liner to shallow center that Victorino can't quite reach and another run scores. 2-0 Mets.
7:22: The inning is finally over as Ryan Church and Ramon Castro go down easily. Not an impressive start, but the Phillies ought to be able to scratch a few runs together against Pedro.
7:26: Rollins starts the Phillies offense off with a double down the right field line. He's now reached base in six consecutive plate appearances.
7:30: Pedro's curveball runs in and hits Utley on the foot. Yes, it actually made physical contact, unlike the Delgado pitch which may have grazed his ego.
7:34: After Burrell flies out to right, Howard strikes out swinging on three pitches. However, it's not a total loss as Rollins and Utley execute a double steal. Victorino comes up with the tying run in scoring position.
7:37: But Victorino whiffs on a 3-2 pitch. It could be a long night.
7:41: Easley gives the Mets a bigger cushion with a solo home run. Three runs against Pedro isn't too much to ask, but the Phillies can't let them pile on.
7:53: The Phillies go down in order. Werth and Feliz each work a full count, making Martinez work, at least, then Ruiz chops a grounder to second on the first pitch he sees.
7:58: Moyer is in trouble again as Beltran and Delgado single. Fortunately the Phillies are past the good part of the Mets' order.
8:02: Tatis breaks his bat and chops a ball down the third base line that hits Beltran, who had stolen third a few pitches earlier. It hits Beltran in fair territory and he by all rights should be out, but the Mets catch a huge break.
8:06: Tatis hits a three-run homer to left which is all well and good, but his at-bat should have ended on the grounder that hit Beltran. Mets 3, Umpires 3, Phillies 0.
8:15: Well you gotta start somewhere. Rollins hits a one-out single in the bottom of the third, and has now reached base seven straight times. He takes second on the first pitch to Utley.
8:21: Burrell is down on strikes looking, as no one but Rollins can seem to hit Pedro today.
8:25: Clay Condrey into the game now, as Moyer lasted only three innings. Easley greets him with his first triple of the season.
8:42: The Phillies are making Pedro work a bit at least. Feliz finally gets the Phillies on the board with a sacrifice fly. Phillies trail 7-1. It's a start...sort of.
8:57: Clay Condrey in for a rare at-bat, his third of the year...and he gets a hit! Condrey breaks his bat and grounds it past a diving Wright and gets a double. It's his third career hit and his first career extra base hit.
8:59: Rollins extends the streak to eight plate appearances with a home run to right. Did Condrey just start a rally?? Well, the Phillies still trail 7-3, so let's not get too excited.
9:03: Utley follows the Rollins homer with a walk, as the Phillies try to cut into the lead even further. Incidentally, Condrey's hit was also his first as a Phillie. His last hit came on April 19th, 2003, when he singled off Nelson Cruz as a member of the Padres.
9:06: Burrell is down looking and Pedro gets the first out of the bottom of the fifth inning. Continuing with the Condrey-hit trivia, guess who hit before Condrey on the day he got his first hit (April 4th, 2003)? Shane Victorino, as a rookie.
9:08: And Howard takes Pedro deep, crushing it over the left field wall. 7-5! All of the sudden we've got a ballgame!
9:12: Victorino strikes out swinging, but Werth singles, extending the inning even further. Pedro is over 100 pitches now and Jerry Manuel comes out, thinking about pulling Pedro, but Pedro's having none of it, especially when he's one out from qualifying for the win. So Pedro will face Pedro (Feliz). We'll see if this comes back to haunt the Mets.
9:14: The other Pedro goes down swinging and the Mets finally get out of the inning, leaving time for one more bit of Condrey-related trivia. Condrey's past and current teammate, Victorino, got his first career hit on April 20th, the day after Condrey's second career hit. But Condrey has one up on Victorino. It took Shane 14 games to get that elusive first hit of his career, whereas Condrey did it in his 11th career game. Seriously though, it's a two-run game now. We can get back to business.
9:19: Reyes singles and here comes the suddenly torrid Damion Easley, who is now a double short of the cycle.
9:20: Easley drops down a bunt. Feliz barehands it and fires to first, but he got to it too late and Easley is on with a bunt single. After igniting a rally at the plate, Condrey is threatening to let the Mets put it out of reach again. To be fair, both runners reached on infield singles.
9:26: Condrey gets Wright to fly out to right after a lengthy at-bat and that will be his last out of the game, as Charlie Manuel turns to Scott Eyre to face the switch-hitting Beltran and left-handed Delgado. Condrey went 2 1/3 innings and threw 46 pitches. That ties for his highest pitch count of the season, the other one coming on June 27th, against the Rangers.
9:29: Greg Dobbs is in at third now, as the Phillies implement the double switch. Reyes steals third without a throw. Ruiz turned and prepared to fire to the base, but apparently forgot the ball, as he lost the handle on it. Eyre then hits Beltran on the foot with a pitch and the bases are now loaded for Delgado. But that's why we traded for Eyre...right??
9:32: Delgado grounds the 0-2 pitch into a 6-4-3 double play. Guess that answers that question. The Phillies escape the inning and still trail by just two runs.
9:37: Brian Stokes into the game now for the Mets, pitching in his sixth game of the season. He gets Ruiz and Dobbs with relative ease, but now faces Rollins with two outs.
9:38: He can't be stopped! Rollins lashes a single up the middle. He now has four hits and is a triple short of the cycle. Utley steps in representing the tying run.
9:40: Utley lines one to center. Beltran reaches for it, making a half-hearted effort to make a tough catch, but instead it skips in front of him. Utley has a single and Rollins heads to third. That brings up Burrell, who has been a rally-killer of late, but has been a Met-killer in the past. Which will it be, Pat?
9:43: Rally-killer. Burrell goes down swinging for his third strikeout of the day. Still, the Phillies have shown serious signs of life and the struggles of the Mets bullpen are well-documented.
9:52: Eyre stays in for the top of the seventh and puts the Mets down in order, striking out Brian Schneider to end the inning. Schneider had entered the game for Castro, who came up a little gimpy earlier after running out a ground ball. Eyre gave the Phillies 1 2/3 innings, which is his longest outing of the year and the first time he recorded five outs since September of last year.
9:59: Someone should remind the Phillies that they're facing Brian Stokes. Apparently that didn't register with Howard, Victorino, or Werth, all of whom get out, as the Phillies go down in order.
10:01: Eyre comes out for another inning, but wait, he'll take a seat as soon as the Mets announce right-handed Nick Evans to pinch hit. Great move if the Mets counter by bringing in a lefty bat, essentially wasting a pinch hitter, but if not, the Phillies have just brought in Chad Durbin, their best long reliever, with the pitcher's spot due up first in the next inning. They'd better hope this game doesn't go into extra innings.
10:05: The Mets do waste Evans, pulling him for the left-handed Daniel Murphy, who grounds out to Rollins for the first out. If I'm Jerry Manuel there, why not pinch hit with Murphy to start? You've got Scott Eyre, a 36 year-old who hasn't pitched two innings all year, on the mound. Do the Phillies really want him out there for another batter? Why not just call their bluff? If you have to go lefty-lefty for one at-bat, then so be it. Not that I'm complaining.
10:12: Reyes walks and Durbin faces Easley, who's putting on a Rollins-esque performance. However, there isn't much pitching going on, as Durbin seems determined to pick off Reyes. All that effort goes to waste, however, as Reyes steals second on the 1-0 pitch.
10:13: Easley draws a walk, bringing up Wright with runners on first and second and one out. Durbin needs to find his control in a hurry. This inning is his and his alone and he's running out of open bases.
10:15: Durbin gets help from an unlikely source, as Wright grounds to the left side of the infield where Dobbs (yes, Greg Dobbs) is there to scoop it up and fire to second, starting the inning-ending 5-4-3 double play.
10:20: Andy Tracy steps in to pinch hit. He delivered (sort of) in his first Phillies appearance the other night, walking to set up Feliz's game-tying single. However, he's all out of (sort of) clutch, as he flies out. Ruiz then steps in and singles. With Dobbs coming up, the Mets go to Pedro Feliciano.
10:23: Coste comes in to pinch hit for Dobbs, which is all well and good, but it uses the Phillies' backup catcher and leaves them with the question of who will play third next inning. Could it be Tracy, who has played 46 games at third in his career? They can worry about that later, as Coste singles through the left side.
10:25: Rollins does it AGAIN! He gets his fifth hit of the game, slapping a single to right that scores Ruiz and moves Coste to third. That brings up Utley with the tying run 90 feet away.
10:29: Well, no clutch hit for Utley today. He goes down swinging in what could well be the decisive at-bat of the game. Burrell comes up and the Mets turn to Joe Smith. Pat the Bat is certainly due.
10:33: Rollins takes off on the first pitch to Burrell. That would have been nicer with one out, but better late than never. Burrell just needs a single to give the Phillies the lead.
10:35: Burrell hits one a mile, but a mile high. Too high. Tatis catches it and the best chance the Phillies had, ending the inning. It's far from over, but that they really needed to tie it in this inning.
10:41: With Dobbs out of the game, Charlie Manuel turns to Carlos Ruiz to play third. Ruiz has never played third in the Major Leagues, nor has he done so in the minors. He played first for two games in Triple-A and outfield for two games in Double-A. So far he hasn't been tested, as Brad Lidge got Beltran to ground to short and then struck out Delgado. I almost want Tatis to bunt to Ruiz here, just out of morbid curiosity.
10:42: Ruiz survives his innings at third without consequence when Lidge strikes out Tatis to retire the side. In comes Billy Wag-- I mean Luis Ayala to attempt to close out the Phillies. Here's a question, if Wagner's entrance music is Enter Sandman, then what does Ayala come in to? Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go? In fairness to Ayala, he hasn't given up a run in his stint with the Mets. All four innings of it.
10:47: Howard hits one to deep, deep center, but it doesn't carry quite enough and Beltran camps under it for the first out.
10:49: The Mets are one out away after Victorino's ground-out to short. Werth steps to the plate, looking to be the hero.
10:50: And Werth hits the first pitch from Ayala up the middle for a single. That will bring up the last Phillies pinch hitter, Eric Bruntlett.
10:52: Unbelievable! Bruntlett hits a double in the right center field gap. Werth makes an ill-advised turn around third but is bailed out as Schneider can't handle the relay. Tie game! Now third baseman Ruiz has a chance to win it.
10:54: Ruiz grounds it up the middle. Reyes dives, gets up, fires and just gets Ruiz, saving the game in the process. Bummer that they couldn't win it there, but the Phillies are headed to extra innings after trailing 7-0. Wow.
10:58: Ryan Madson comes in to pitch the tenth and he gets a first, painful out. Ryan Church hits a hard grounder that bounces off Madson, who then recovers and gets the easy out at first.
11:02: After a brief check-up on Madson, he faces Schneider, who lines the 3-1 pitch into left center.
11:05: Madson starts his match-up with Argenis Reyes by throwing two straight balls. Rich Dubee is less than pleased and comes out to have a word with him. Whatever he said, it worked. Madson throws two strikes, then gets the other Reyes to hit into a 6-3 double play.
11:07: Aaron Heilman in to pitch the bottom of the tenth, which sounds pretty good if you're a Phillies fan. We'll see if Chris Coste agrees with the assessment. Rollins awaits on deck and with the way he's hit, it may not matter what Coste does.
11:09: Coste seems to think it matters. He strokes a double down the left field line that lands just fair. Here comes Rollins with the winning run in scoring position. Let's hear those chants! MVP! MVP!
11:11: Rollins is human after all. He hits a fly ball to the gap, but it hangs a little too long and Tatis gets to it. Coste was halfway to third, so he had no chance to tag up. Now, with Burrell on deck, the Mets intentionally walk Utley. Will this get Burrell riled up enough to deliver the big hit?
11:14: Apparently Burrell thinks he's in a museum. Look but don't touch. He's called out on strikes for the fourth time tonight.
11:15: Howard smashes it down the first base line, but Delgado, playing deep, snares it and runs to the bag, ending the inning.
11:17: Madson comes out for his second inning of work and gets off to a good start, retiring Reyes on one pitch on a grounder to short.
11:23: After an Easley grounder to Rollins (the first time he got out all night), Wright hits it down the first base line and it caroms off the wall in foul territory. Wright makes the suspect decision to go for two and Werth (who got bailed out of a similarly-bad decision earlier tonight) barehands it and fires to second to nail Wright and end the inning. Werth had him by a mile. Ironic that he's the one who makes someone pay for making a poor baserunning decision.
11:27: Now, with the pitcher due to bat fourth, J.C. Romero, who was said to be unavailable tonight, is warming up in the Phillies bullpen. Maybe the Phillies can just win it now so we don't have to find out just how 'unavailable' Romero is. Victorino leads off with a pop out.
11:29: Werth works a five-pitch walk and Bruntlett comes up again, hoping for a replay of the ninth inning. Cole Hamels (yes, you read that right) awaits on deck.
11:34: Bruntlett seems to have taken over where Rollins left off, delivering another hit. He lines a single to left, advancing Werth to second. Now here comes Hamels...not looking to bunt.
11:37: Hamels puts up a good fight, but he is called out on strikes. Bunting might have been the way to go, but Werth ought to score from second anyway. Now it's up to Coste, who is 2 for 2 tonight.
11:39: Coste grounds it to Wright, who goes to his right to grab it, but loses his balance and can't get up to throw to first. He holds onto the ball and keeps it a tie game, to his credit. But now Rollins heads to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs. Can we just call this a playoff game?
11:41: Rollins can't come through this time, popping to Wright in foul territory. Maybe he's trying to extend the game so he can get that triple for the cycle.
11:44: Romero comes in to pitch the top of the twelfth, despite the fact that he was supposed to be unavailable. Let's hope that was just a precautionary measure.
11:46: So far Romero looks just fine. He gets Beltran swinging for the first out of the inning. Now he'll face Delgado.
11:50: Delgado hits a routine grounder to Utley for the second out and Dubee comes to the mound, perhaps to explain to Romero what a right-handed batter is, as Tatis steps in.
11:52: Or maybe Dubee told Romero to pitch around Tatis, who has a home run already today. Tatis walks on five pitches, bringing up the left-handed Church.
11:55: Church rips a grounder to first, but Howard snares it and tags first to end the inning. I think he's just showing off for Delgado, who snagged one of Howard's near-hits.
11:59: Heilman is in for his third inning of work. He'll start the inning against Utley. Meanwhile Rudy Seanez warms up for the Phillies. He's their last reliever. Kyle Kendrick might have to get ready soon.
12:02: Utley works a 3-0 count, then swings at the next three pitches. He can't get a piece of the last one and goes down on strikes. Now Burrell steps in after a forgettable (to be kind) night. He promptly pops out.
12:03: The Mets have a discussion on the mound, probably about whether or not to walk Howard intentionally. They opt not to, though it's hard to see why. Howard has a home run today and Victorino, on deck, is 0 for 6.
12:05: The decision pays off as Howard goes down looking on a 3-2 slider. It really feels like the Phillies are running out of chances...and players. Seanez to pitch the next inning.
12:09: Seanez retires Schneider to start the inning while Kendrick gets loose in the bullpen. The pitcher is due to bat fourth, so we'll almost certainly see another pitcher hit. But who will it be? Seanez? Kendrick? Maybe even Myers. The possibilities are...actually fairly limited. The Phillies are almost out of players.
12:12: Endy Chavez, pinch hitting for Heilman, chops a grounder that appeared to skip off first base. It falls into Howard's glove and he outruns Chavez to first.
12:14: Seanez gets Reyes to hit a lazy fly ball to Burrell, giving him a 1-2-3 inning. Not too shabby. Do they try for one more inning out of the veteran, or do they bring in Kendrick? I'd rather not find out. Can we just win this one already?
12:18: Victorino and I are thinking on the same wavelength. He laces a triple down the right field line and the Phillies are 90 feet away from victory with no outs. Scott Schoeneweis intentionally walks Werth AND Bruntlett to get to the pitcher's spot. Myers prepares to pinch hit. What a game.
12:21: So it's Myers with the bases loaded and no outs. Myers appears to have no interest in swinging, looking to avoid a double play. Not a bad strategy. Especially if Schoeneweis can't throw strikes. Also, in case you were wondering Werth and Bruntlett had a combined seven intentional walks coming into this game.
12:23: Myers works a full count by virtue of not swinging, but Schoeneweis finds the strike zone and gets Myers looking.
12:24: Coste rips one to deep center and Beltran won't even chase it! It's over, the Phillies win 8-7! Coste goes 4 for 4 despite not entering the game until the eighth inning.
What an incredible win for the Phillies. They've all got to be besides themselves. Well except for Joe Blanton who's probably pouting. "I didn't get to do ANYTHING!" At least Kendrick got to warm up.
You just aren't supposed to win games like that. It should have been over from the start, when the Phillies trailed 7-0, but the Mets bullpen proved worse than advertised (amazingly). Winning in thirteen innings when your starter only gives you three. Ridiculous.
And let's not forget tonight's hero...Clay Condrey! You might not remember, but Condrey started the Phillies' fifth inning rally with a double, setting up Rollins' two-run shot.
That's all the excitement I can take for tonight. We've still got another game tomorrow. Whatever happens then, it will feel awfully good to go to bed tonight with the Phillies in first place.