A night after teasing their fans with a seven run performance the Philadelphia Phillies (3-3) returned to their early season form by squeaking out a 3-1 win over the Ozzie Guillen-less Miami Marlins (2-5) and winning their first series of the season. Maybe the idea that 98% of the state of Pennsylvania would be watching what turned out to be a magnificent playoff hockey game took the pressure off their shoulders, and once the focus was back solely on the team in pinstripes they tightened up again. If that’s the case Phillies fans better hope that the Flyers go deep into the playoffs if they intend to make the October show (like Philly fans wouldn’t be pulling for the Black and Orange anyway).
RHP Joe Blanton (1-1) pitched seven clean innings, giving up one run on three hits and showing a level of command on his fastball that we haven’t seen for a looonnnnggg time after an injury plagued 2011 season. He challenged hitters early in the counts by throwing 15 first-pitch strikes against 26 batters and worked both sides of the plate to great effect. With all the fanfare that the three aces on staff get Blanton goes out and gives a workman-like performance: not flashy but he gets the job done.
Saying that being able to hit and score runs is this team’s weakness is like saying that there are craters on the moon— as in it’s completely obvious to anyone with a working pair of eyeballs regardless of how bad their sight is. That specter continued to hang over the team Thursday as this lineup, the fifth different one in six games, managed eight hits and only three runs. Although each starter aside from Big Joe and Carlos Ruiz had at least one hit, only RF Hunter Pence managed more than that (he had two). Then again you don’t need hits and base runners if you’re hitting the ball out of the park as both CF Shane Victorino and 1B Ty Wiggington both hit their first dingers of the season with Victorino hitting his in the 4th to break the 0-0 tie and Wiggington crushing a 416 ft. monster into the left field stands the 7th to make it 3-1.
With the offensive drought almost being the Philadelphia equivalent to the great Dust Bowl the need for top notch defense is at a peak. Fortunately 2B Freddy Galvis, filling in for lost-in-Arizona 2B Chase Utley, flashed some brilliant leather at second making some critical plays to keep the game tight. Wiggington also made a fantastic stretch play to corral a wide throw by Blanton in the 4th. This will need to continue as 1B Ryan Howard continues to struggle healing from his torn Achilles and is now doubtful to be ready anytime before the All-Star break; Utley is even more of a question mark as his injury isn’t one that is going to get any better, his bad knees may keep him out a majority of the season.