Clearly something was bothering Utley because he went from 25 home runs during the first half of the season, to just eight after the All-Star Break. In fact, all of Utley’s power numbers waned, though his batting average remained steady.
Utley ripped a few loud fouls off the lefty John Lannan, but went down on strikes when the pitcher fooled him with a slider. Regardless, Utley’s stroke seems solid.
The Nats got on the board in the fifth when Jayson Werth could not hang onto a long drive hit by Anderson Hernandez when he crashed into the right-field fence. Werth appeared to be shaken up a bit on the play, taking an extra minute to loosen up his shoulder and/or catch his breath after relaying the ball back to the infield.
Moyer, meanwhile, is up to 72 pitches. He should be able to get through seven innings.
Nevertheless, fears that Werth was a little banged up were allayed in the bottom half of the frame when he led off with home run just over the out-of-town scoreboard in right.
Call it a “Citizens Bank Park Special.”
Lannan survived big trouble when Shane Victorino’s long drive was caught at the fence.
The Phillies are 12 outs away from wrapping things up.
End of 5: Phillies 3, Nats 1
Those thoughts got stronger when I learned about Milwaukeean Jeffrey Dahmer, Lieberace and saw Wayne and Garth visit the city to catch an Alice Cooper gig.
So nothing against the Mets, but it would be neat to see the Brewers get the wild card so the Phillies can have that second trip to Milwaukee. If we go, I hope to visit Schott’s Brewery.
Jamie Moyer escaped the sixth with his two-run lead thanks to some of his wily and crafty work after Ryan Zimmerman and Lastings Milledge singled to open the frame. From there, Moyer went to work and stranded the runners by getting two flies to center and his first whiff of the game.
After six, Moyer has allowed six hits and a walk on 86 pitches. Call it a night, Jamie.
Steven Shell relieved John Lannan and sat down the Phillies in order.
We’re into the bullpens now, folks. The Phillies need nine outs.
End of 6: Phillies 3, Nats 1
In the meantime, here are the lineups:
Phillies 11 - Rollins, ss 28 - Werth, rf 26 - Utley, 2b 6 - Howard, 1b 5 - Burrell, lf 8 - Victorino, cf 7 - Feliz, 3b 51 - Ruiz, c 50 - Moyer, p
Nationals 6 - Hernandez, 2b 15 - Guzman, ss 11 - Zimmerman, 3b 44 - Milledge, cf 34 - Dukes, rf 8 - Boone, 1b 53 - Nieves, c 2 - Bernadina, lf 31 - Lannan, p
One more word on the great Paul Newman, who passed on this morning at the age of 83 after a long battle with cancer...
Aside from being one of the most mesmerizing actor I've ever seen. The fact is that no matter the role, it was impossible to take your eyes off him. Whether it was as Fast Eddie Felton in "The Hustler," the title character in "Cool Hand Luke" or even underrated films like "The Road to Perdition" and "Nobody's Fool," Newman brought it all the time.
He was that way off screen, too. The obit in The Washington Post claimed that Newman "mocked his sex-symbol status and said that his personality was closest to the vulgar, second-rate hockey coach he played in 'Slap Shot' (1977)."
Newman was beloved by his acting colleagues, who all seemed to want to emulate him. But really, how could they not? As a devoted family man, activist and artist -- all of the highest order -- there was a lot to copy. He was truly an American icon.
Thankfully Newman leaves behind an epic legacy on the screen and a more important one in the super markets. Newman's Own products have contributed $200 million to charities since 1982 and will continue giving for decades to come.
So as tribute, I'm going to sit here during the Phillies-Nats game and dig into some Newman's Own pretzels and if I get home at a decent hour, watch any of the great films from Newman's body of work...
I think this could be a "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," night.
The truth is there is no good way to avoid the party. The best bet is to dive in, get what you need and get back to the press box to change into something a little less wet.
That’s my tact, anyway. I brought a change of clothes in case the Phillies nail this down. And following last season’s celebration where I had a beer poured down my pants by a player who shall remain nameless as well as other liquids dumped on my head, I should have brought a poncho.
Chad Durbin got the Phillies to within six outs of the clincher by working through the seventh. He had some help from Chase Utley, who turned a neat little inning-ending double play to end the inning.
The Phillies went quietly in the seventh against lefty reliever Mike Hinckley.
I don’t know… maybe the Phillies need another run or two?
End of 7: Phillies 3, Nats 1
It also appears as if the Phillies are going to need to win today to clinch the NL East, because Johan Santana just finished the eighth inning at Shea with a shutout intact.
It appears as if the Mets will live to fight another day.
Better for the Phillies or any other team that might have to face the Mets down the road, it appears as if Santana will need a good five days before he pitches again. Through eight innings, Santana has allowed two hits on 104 pitches. This, of course, comes three days after Santana turned in a complete game victory on a career-high 125 pitches in his last outing.
Needless to say, Johan has earned a break.
Meanwhile, we’re getting ready to get busy here in Philly. It looks as if the Phillies will need to win to sew it up.
Yeah, everyone remembers that one.
Though he seems relaxed and laidback away from the field, it’s obvious he gets amped up when he gets the ball. Even if the game is tight and the pressure is about to boil over, Lidge wants the ball.
After last night’s game when the prospect of pitching in the ninth inning of a clinching game was broached, Lidge’s eyes lit up.
“I don’t care if it’s 100-0 – I will be available,” he said. “There is no scenario where I won’t want to be out there.”
Of course Lidge usually only comes into the game when the Phillies have the lead. That thin thread became even more precariously delicate during the eighth inning when Ryan Madson entered and promptly got into a jam.
Unlike Lidge, this is the first time Madson has been in these high-pressure situations. Last season he was on the disabled list when the Phillies made their march to the post-season so all he could do was celebrate with his teammates and watch from the bench.
This year Madson gave up a leadoff single to (Phillie killer) Cristian Guzman and a long double to Ryan Zimmerman. Things really got worrisome for the 45, 177 in the house when Lastings Milledge lifted a blooper into short center field that shortstop Jimmy Rollins somehow hauled in.
But in doing so, Rollins collided with Shane Victorino -- seemingly kicking him in the shins – as Guzman tagged and scored. After the play, Victorino remained on his back, but remained in the game.
Madson stayed in, too and got Elijah Dukes on a broken –bat grounder before whiffing Aaron Boone to end the inning.
When Boone swung and missed, Madson screamed and pumped his fist as he walked off the mound.
The Phillies tacked on one with two-outs in the bottom half of the inning when Victorino legged out an infield single and came around to score on Pedro Feliz's RBI double.
Here comes Lidge…
End of 8: Phillies 4, Nats 2
The writers chose Brad Lidge for the MVP, Cole Hamels for top pitcher despite the fact that Lidge also is a pitcher. Greg Dobbs took home the prize for “Good Guy,” while Jamie Moyer got the special achievement award.
Perhaps the highlight of the brief, on-field ceremony was when the Philly Phantic mused up the flowing locks of the well coiffed scribe, Todd Zolecki. However, with his usual aplomb and a stylish flip of that mane, all returned to order for Zolecki.
Anyway, based on what Lidge said last night he is chomping at the bit to get out there in the ninth with a lead today.
Moyer issued a two-out walk to Aaron Boone, son of ex-Phillie great, Bob Boone. However, he threw 16 more pitches in the second and has racked up 33 through two innings… that’s too many.
The Phillies kicked up a bit of a fuss in the second against John Lannan when Pat Burrell walked and Shane Victorino singled to left with one out. However, Burrell was caught off second base when Pedro Feliz popped out to short center field.
That’s two base-running gaffes this week for Burrell if you are scoring at home.
End of 2: Phils 0, Nats 0