With the addition of Hunter Pence, the offense is expected to ignite. Last night, Ryan Howard saw more pitches in the zone, with Pence providing protection. The talk is all about Pence, but Raul Ibanez is showing that there is no need for him to ride the pine. Known as a streaky hitter, Ibanez is in the midst of a hot streak.
Ibanez finished the day 3-for-5 with two home runs and four RBIs. He started the action with a solo shot in the first inning. The one run was enough for starter Vance Worley, until the fifth inning.
Worley came back to earth, allowing four runs over six innings. He struck out seven, but allowed a go-ahead home run to Lyle Overbay in the sixth inning. The Pirates added a run in the seventh on Garrett Jones‘ double, leading 5-3. It looked as if the Pirates would salvage a game from the series, but Ibanez had other ideas.
After doubling, Ryan Howard made a huge baserunning mistake on a fielder’s choice, and it looked like Joe Biemel would see his way out of the jam. Clint Hurdle decided to stay with the righty against the lefty, and it proved costly. Ibanez jacked his second home run of the game into the left field seats. The game would be even at five.
With two runners on base, Chase Utley had the perfect opportunity to win the game. However, he flied to deep center, ending the inning. It was time for free baseball.
Antonio Bastardo tossed a 1-2-3 tenth inning, giving it a chance for the offense to win it. Hunter Pence doubled, getting into scoring position for the red-hot Ibanez. He didn’t disappoint, lining a base hit to right field. Pence rounded third, and scored easily to give the Phillies a 6-5 victory.
The offense is heating up at the right time. Ibanez, Howard, Utley, and Jimmy Rollins are all swinging the bat better. With Pence in the fifth spot, the offense is that much scarier. The pitching has been great all year, and now it is time for the offense to do the same.
Pittsburgh Pirates (54-51) at Philadelphia Phillies (67-39)
Jeff Karstens (8-5, 2.41 ERA) vs. Vance Worley (7-1, 2.02 ERA)
The Phillies have a shot at sweeping the Pirates and holding on to a 5-game lead in the NL East over the Braves.
They’ll also look to continue their hot hitting. Ryan Howard was a monster on Saturday, going 4-for-4 with a homer and two doubles. Hunter Pence slipped into the background in his Phillies debut going 1-for-5 with an RBI batting in the 5-hole. Perhaps his inclusion in the lineup is already starting to pay off.
Or, perhaps this offense is just plugging along at its usual summer pace – they love to hit when the weather gets warm.
Today it’s Vance Worley on the mound seeking the sweep against a scrappy Pirates team that is fighting for its life in the NL Central. I think I speak for many when I say I’d love to see the Pirates make the playoffs again, but for this weekend, we want nothing less than three wins for the Fightins.
I didn’t get a chance to put my two cents in over the last few days, but I’m excited to see Pence flourish here. Was it the best move to make? In my opinion, no; but what’s done is done. I’m upset to see the Phillies continue to pick Raul over Domonic, but such is baseball life. Brown will get his.
For now, this is the lineup we’ll see. It is certainly a lineup that is strong enough to win the division, the league, and the World Series.
The Pirates will have a new face on the roster today after acquiring first baseman Derrek Lee from the Baltimore Orioles. No word on if he’ll make it in time for today’s 1:35 start.
Tonight’s Lineup: Rollins SS, Victorino CF, Utley 2B, Howard 1B, Pence RF, Ibanez LF, Schneider C, Martinez 3B, Worley P.
Your Gameday Beer – Coors Light
Tap the Rockies today on this very warm, slightly humid afternoon. I’ve grown to take Coors for what it is, the best of the Big 3. It’s not going to wow you, but it will cool you off and sort of refresh you. On taste alone, St. Bernardus 12, it ain’t. But if you’re at CBP and in need a refresher, you could do worse, I think. It’s Coors, and it won’t kill you. Enjoy the game. -By Pat