The Phillies continued to excel in games in which they score piles of runs, salvaging a series split in Los Angeles, with a 7-2 win on Sunday night. A three-run Phils' outburst in the seventh inning, featuring homers by Carlos Ruiz and Shane Victorino, turned a 3-2 lead into a 6-2 advantage. Ryan Howard hit a solo homer in the eighth, providing the final margin. Newly-installed leadoff man Shane Victorino, and six-hole hitter Jimmy Rollins, each contributed two hits to the nine-hit, four-walk attack.
Antonio Bastardo picked up his second win, in as many starts, surviving five innings. Bastardo allowed seven hits and a walk, and was responsible for the two Dodgers' runs. He scuffled through 107 pitches (67 strikes), and left with two runners on base in the sixth, one of whom scored. It was a good performance by the rookie, on the road against a strong offensive team.
In the sixth inning, with the potential go-ahead run at the plate, Phillies' Manager Charlie Manuel summoned from the bullpen...Chan Ho Park. It was a puzzling, and rather terrifying, selection. It was also a decision that worked out brilliantly. Park performed like the pitcher who posted an opponents' OPS of .649 in LA in 2008. He induced a key double-play grounder, and threw three (!) scoreless innings, in which he surrendered only a single hit. With a 7-2 lead in the ninth inning, it was a perfect time for Manuel to bring in rarely-used southpaw Jack Taschner. So, Manuel summoned overworked setup man Ryan Madson, who had thrown twenty-five pitches the previous day, to protect the five-run advantage. Madson threw seventeen more pitches, allowing one hit, and retiring two Dodgers on strikes. It was a baffling move, but at least Madson will get Monday off, as the Phillies enjoy an off-day (and a cross-country flight), before starting a three-game road series against the Mets.
Perhaps even more terrifying than the prospect of Chan Ho Park entering a game with a mere three-run lead, was the performance of the ESPN announcing crew. While Park's success was surprising, the continued ineptitude of Joe Morgan was not. The "Worldwide Leader in Sports" cannot be oblivious to Morgan's cluelessness at this point, can it? What they could be doing is combatting his confusion, by running disclaimers and/or explanations on the bottom of the screen, not unlike they do with scoring updates from other games, as they appear committed to retaining Morgan in his present role.
Tonight's disclaimers would have included: "Raul Ibanez is actually signed to a three-year contract." when Morgan made reference to Ibanez having a four-year deal. "The Phillies only have a three-man bench, as Matt Stairs is not available.", when Morgan and Co. were confused by the Phillies' bench usage. Explanations of Morgan's unintelligible monologue comparing Charlie Manuel and Joe Torre, as well as his comments regarding the Phillies' record when scoring four runs, could also have crawled along the bottom of the screen. Morgan spent almost the entirety of the eighth inning describing the numerous non-baseball events he has attended. So, I guess it was a typical ESPN Sunday Night Baseball broadcast.
On Tuesday, the Phillies will begin their crucial three-game road series at Citi Field. J.A Happ, sporting a 4-0 record, will attempt to match zeroes with Mets' ace Johan Santana (7-3). The Mets are currently dealing with some injury concerns, so it is a prime opportunity for the Phils to pick up some key divisional wins. A series sweep would be huge, but beating Santana is always difficult, even if you have Chan Ho Park on your team.