July 31, 2009 11:05 PM

Phillies (Almost) Make History

MLB: JUN 16 Blue Jays at Phillies

Phillies' reliever Tyler Walker's pitch was as wild as it was unhittable, bouncing away from Phillies' catcher Carlos Ruiz. San Francisco's Eugenio Velez offered at the pitch, for a third strike, but the speedy Giant easily reached first base, before Ruiz could retrieve the wayward ball. With that display of shoddy command, history was now within the grasp of the journeyman northpaw. Walker had retired three San Francisco Giants on strikes in the frame, and would have the opportunity to record four strikeouts in a single inning. Walker could become the first Phillie in the History of Philliedom to achieve such a feat. Unfortunately, shortstop Jimmy Rollins cost Walker his chance at immortality, by catching Pablo Sandoval's liner for the final out. With the Phillies trailing 7-2, and only a single inning to recover from a Win Expectancy of .5%, Rollins should have let the ball fall for a single. Walker could have had another chance at fame, a story to tell his Lehigh Valley teammates next week, and the Phillies would have been able to salvage something from a disappointing loss. Alas, it was not to be.

Rodrigo Lopez struggled, in what was likely his last start for the Phillies. (The acquistion of Cliff Lee will probably bump Lopez to the bullpen, and probably send Walker to Lehigh Valley, via the waiver wire.) Lopez survived only four innings, permitting all seven San Francisco runs, on eight hits and two walks. As a result of unusually sloppy Phillies' fielding, only three of those runs was earned. Kyle Kendrick and Walker, both likely destined for AAA before this time next week, each contributed a pair of scoreless frames. But the Phillies were held to a two-run homer by Chase Utley, who drove a blast over the wall in right, only pitches after Giants' starter Jonathan Sanchez had buzzed Utley's tower. Utley's at bat, Walker's retaliatory beaning of Ryan Garko, and Walker's failed attempt at immortality, were pretty much the only useful moments in another weak Phillies' performance.

Cliff Lee makes his long-awaited Phillies' debut on Friday night, opposed by Giants' rookie Ryan Sadowski. Fellow new acquisition Ben Francisco (Treat) will be in the lineup as well, subbing for injured All-Star Shane Victorino (day-to-day, with knee contusion). It will be exciting to see how Lee performs. (I'm predicting seven innings, one run.) If Lee pitches to his ability tonight, it might be prudent to get to Modell's very early on Saturday morning. Lee's #34 jersey will be selling as quickly as his 90 MPH heater hurtles towards the strike zone.

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