Friday, May 2, 2008

Burrell wins game for Phils with walk off shot in the 10th

More evidence for the affect a contract year has on a player's performance: Pat Burrell's 2008 season. Burrell, who has been putting up consistent numbers year in and year out for the Phillies, continues to crush the ball this season better than he has in his entire career. In tonight's game against the Giants, he continued his torrid streak with a home run at the most dramatic moment. With Chase Utley standing on first and the Phillies trailing 5-4 in the bottom of the 10th inning, and a count of 3 balls and 2 strikes, Burrell hit his 9th home run of the season to win the game for the Phillies, 6-5.

Burrell's hot start has helped to mask Ryan Howard's struggles (0 for 5 with 3 strikeouts tonight) and Jimmy Rollins' injury (20+ games missed and counting). Burrell is now hitting .33o on the season and is on pace to hit 49 homers and drive in 151 runs, numbers that would shatter his career highs. Between Burrell and Utley, who hit another home run tonight to stretch his league-leading total to 12, the Phillies have two guys who are in the Top 15 in the National League in batting average, homers and RBI's. If the big guy hitting in between them ever heats up, this team will be unstoppable.

As for the rest of tonight's game, the Phillies bullpen finally showed they were human tonight. Ryan Madson gave up the runs in the 7th to allow the Giants to tie the game up and J.C. Romero gave up his first earned run of the season in the 10th that allowed the Giants to take a lead. Kyle Kendrick pitched adequately, although two of the runs that Madson gave up in the 7th were runners he allowed on base.

Tonight also marked the return of fan favorite Aaron Rowand to Philadelphia. Rowand got a nice standing ovation for his first at-bat of the night and the Phillie Phanatic had some fun re-enacting his infamous crash into the wall. Rowand had a great night, going 2 for 5 and hitting what could have been the game-winning home run in the top of the 10th, but Phils fans should remember that the reason Rowand left town was to chase the money. For all the praise he gets as a clubhouse guy, he sold out to go to the crappy Giants instead of staying with a team he could have won a championship with. The Phillies made him an offer that was pretty substantial but the Giants offer was much more, so Rowand took the money and left town.

The Phillies play two more against the Giants this weekend, including a must-see pitching match-up between Cole Hamels and Tim Lincecum on Sunday afternoon. Whoever actually scores a run off those two will win the game.

Video of Pat Burrell's walk-off homer via Comcast SportsNet:

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