With six runs on the board in the blink of an eye, it looked like this team finally had a fire in them. Then, they slowly let that lead decrease until it was down to one.
For a team as far back as the Phillies are, there is no way to measure how important winning is now. The standings say a lot as it is, and that massive lead that the Nationals have built will not be tackled in a day. But the Phillies need to win and win everyday. They got off to a good start tonight.
But clearly the Phillies aren’t going to make it easy. Two sizable leads withered away to the slimmest of margins, but for these Phillies, a win is a win.
The Phillies were off and running in this one. Four straight hits to start the game plated two runs with Jim Thome getting the payoff in the form of a two-run single. Twins starter P.J. Walters left the game with an injury after that, but it didn’t stop the Phillies. Carlos Ruiz singled home another run. That was followed by a three-run home run by John Mayberry Jr. to cap a six-run inning.
The Twins got a run back in the second on a solo home run by Trevor Plouffe. Mayberry answered that in the third with an RBI double.
Joe Mauer and Josh Willingham each plated runs in the third with groundouts to cut the lead to four.
But, the Phillies had a big answer in big Jim Thome. He blasted a 466-foot moonshot to dead center field to give the Phillies their six-run lead back. It was Thome’s second home run of the season, a two-run shot.
Cole Hamels allowed a solo home run to Willingham in the sixth. The seventh was the real adventure. Denard Span drove in a run with a double, chasing Hamels. Ben Revere and Mauer added RBI singles to follow, closing the book on Hamels. He finished allowing seven runs on eight hits with two walks and six strikeouts in six-plus innings.
Antonio Bastardo allowed the hits to Revere and Mauer before also allowing a run to score on an RBI groundout by Justin Morneau. He got Ryan Doumit to strike out swinging to end the inning.
Chad Qualls struck out three while getting two outs in the eighth with the last of those reaching on a wild pitch. That forced the Phillies to go for a four-out save with Jonathan Papelbon.
Papelbon got Span to line out to left to end the eighth, then pitched a perfect ninth to seal the win, snapping a three-game losing streak for the Phillies who beat the Twins, 9-8.
After a nail-biter of a game, the Phillies have one more victory to their name. It wasn’t pretty and it was hardly enjoyable at the end, but it is still a win.
The offense looks like the offense of years past, with several players leading the way. Carlos Ruiz went 3-for-3 with two doubles and an RBI. Hunter Pence and Juan Pierre were each 3-for-5. John Mayberry Jr. was 2-for-5 with four RBIs. Jim Thome went 2-for-4 with four RBIs as well.
The pitching is still an adventure. Cole Hamels should have cruised through this game. Instead, he allowed seven runs, including four in his final inning of work. Antonio Bastardo also wasn’t on point, but still got through the seventh.
It’s a start for the Phillies, who have a long way to go. But for now, at least this is a win to build off of which is more than they can say in the past three days.
The Phillies and Twins play in the rubber match of this series tomorrow night. Joe Blanton gets the start against Scott Diamond.
L: P.J. Walters (2-2)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (17)