Tuesday, August 17, 2010

5-run 8th pushes Phillies into Wild Card lead

After a slow start, the Phillies managed to ruin Pat Burrell's return to Philadelphia. Burrell, likely pumped by the standing ovation the crowd gave him, spoiled things early for the Phils, hitting a homer in his first at bat in a regular season game at Citizen's Bank while wearing an opposing uniform. Starting pitcher Roy Oswalt settled down from there, though, mowing through the Giants while allowing 3 runs across 7 innings.

The Phillies offense came alive in the 8th inning when, while searching for insurance runs, the Phils nearly batted around, plating 5 runs off a usually strong Giants bullpen. The big inning allowed the Phillies to win the game 9-3 and take a one game lead over the Giants in the Wild Card.

While Burrell made some noise in his return to the Phillies, Chase Utley was fairly quiet in his first game back in several weeks. Utley finished the night without a hit, going 0 for 5, but he did look healthy, which is the most important thing. As for who supplied the offense for the Phillies, Placido Polanco was a big contributor, going 4 for 5 while increasing his batting average to an NL-leading .325. The rest of the offense came from all over the lineup as every Phillie besides Utley registered a hit and either scored a run or drove one in. Most impressively, the Phillies managed to score 9 runs without hitting any home runs.

While the Braves won again on Tuesday night to keep the Phillies 2.5 games back, having the Wild Card lead is a nice fallback for the Phillies. While their goal should be to win the division, simply getting to the playoffs any way possible is ultimately the most important thing. After all, with a 1-2-3 pitching rotation of Halladay, Hamels and Oswalt, it's not going to matter whether they are at home or on the road to start the playoffs.

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