Early regular season games rarely are remembered when there isn’t much at stake, but this classic game against the Mets had a different feel to it. What started as a very frustrating game turned into a case of déjà vu. Remember the Brett Myers walk? Remember the Shane Victorino slam? Remember Game 2 of the NLDS, 2008? Well, if you didn’t know any better, this game was a replay.
A pair of early homers had the Mets on top, but Ryan Howard and Placido Polanco both added long balls of their own to cut into that lead. Going to the bottom of the fourth, the Mets had opened up a 5-2 lead, and with Johan Santana on the mound, looked to be holding control on the game. That’s when the ballgame took a trip back in time. With two outs, the Phillies plated a run on an RBI single, and eventually loaded the bases, but had Jamie Moyer at the plate. Moyer had already allowed a three-run shot and a two-run shot, and while many thought a pinch hitter could do so much more in that spot, Moyer stayed in to hit. What followed was an incredible battle, that forced Santana to throw seven pitches, and saw Moyer head down to first with an RBI walk. Two pitches later, and Shane Victorino cleared the bases with a two-out grand slam off Santana, and the Phillies had the lead. Two batters later, Chase Utley joined the party, blasting a majestic two-run shot to right. Jayson Werth capped the huge frame with an RBI double, and the Phillies had rallied back to score nine runs in the fourth, and chased Johan Santana, in what was only the beginning of a very tough season. The Phillies didn’t allow another run, as Moyer, who could have been lifted in the fourth, lasted six strong innings, before the bullpen finished the job, and the Phillies downed the Mets, 11-5.
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Again, as mentioned with Opening Day, it is rare to find a memorable game so early in the season. But, with the Mets still looking like a rival who could threaten the Phillies in the division race, this game started with a sense that it could be a long night for Phillies’ pitching. After all, with David Wright and Rod Barajas each homering in the early stages of the game, the Phillies made this one look like an uphill battle. And things didn’t look to good with Johan Santana on the mound either. Then, in that huge fourth inning, Johan unraveled. For an inning that produced nine runs, it sure didn’t look that way from the start. In fact, the Phillies didn’t even have a threat in that inning before there were two outs. Raul Ibanez added an RBI single, and the lead was at least trimmed to two, but what followed was truly amazing. Much like the Brett Myers vs. C.C. Sabathia battle in Game 2 of the 2008 NLDS, Jamie Moyer stood in and fought the opposing ace. With the bases loaded, and a run at stake, Citizens Bank Park was growing louder and louder with every miss from Santana, and when Moyer was able to work the walk for an RBI, the place was near that level of explosion. Two pitches later, they were there. Just as he had in that magical Game 2, Shane Victorino hit another grand slam. Two batters later, as Chase Utley went deep, the crowd may have been even louder. I honestly can’t remember a time, even in the World Series, when that ballpark sounded that loud on television. And just for insurance, the Phillies added one more in that inning, capping the scoring at nine. The pitching staff made that inning the dagger for the Mets. Santana struggled for most of the season, especially after that loss. The Mets fell into a midseason freefall, and are struggling to get out of it even now. The Phillies, meanwhile, were on top of the world. One of the best Aprils in recent memory for the Phils had carried over into May. And from there, the Mets weren’t even a threat in the East. The Phillies actually used them later in the season to move closer to what would be their fourth consecutive NL East title.
But this game felt like a turning point on the season. The Phillies were being challenged early, and they answered the call with that big inning. It was one of the first games that answered the question “is this team for real?” At that point, they were very much for real, and the first real comeback of 2010 ranks at number eight on Games of the Year.