Michael Martinez is in, and Domonic Brown is out. That, my friends, is the formula for winning. Mix in John Lannan and this Phillies bullpen, and the team is guaranteed success. Tonight's scenario was set up exactly like this, as Philly looked to avenge last night's 4-1 loss to the Cardinals. Standing in the way of the win was St. Louis big man Jake Westbrook. With a lineup that included both Laynce Nix and Delmon Young, fans had very little to worry about.
Both pitchers faced the minimum through an inning and a half. In the home half of the second, Allen Craig continued to hit the ball incredibly well. His single lead off the inning, while Yadier Molina nearly doubled down the left field line. Instead, Michael Young knocked it down and held Molina to a single. With two runners on, David Freese walked to load the bases with nobody out. A Matt Adams single then scored both Craig and Molina, giving the Red Birds an early 2-0 lead.
The next play should make the highlight reel every night for the rest of the season. A miracle occurred right in front of our eyes. Pete Kozma fought a ball off and popped it into right field to one Delmon Young. After making the catch, Young somehow gathered the strength to force the ball to home plate in the air. All of this culminated in a Carlos Ruiz tag of a running Freese, and the second out. Wow. A Westbrook groundout finished it off.
Things continued to go wrong in the third. Matt Carpenter and Shane Robinson each singled to start it off. After a pop up and a fielder's choice, there were runners on the corners for one Yadier Molina. He continued his MVP bid with an RBI single, moving the Cardinal lead to 3-0.
Lannan actually began the fourth inning well. He retired the first two batters with swinging strikeouts. Then, the dreaded walk to the pitcher was surrendered, and Westbrook was on first with two out. He was then somehow able to steal second and put another running in scoring position. Carpenter capitalized with a single, scoring Westbrook and plating the fourth run of the game. 4-0 Cardinal lead.
The Phillies finally made some noise in the fifth. Save for a Delmon Young single in the second, the Phillies were not hitting well. Darin Ruf ended the stretch with a single to begin the inning. After Nix flied out and John Mayberry Jr. reached on a ball to Freese at third, Chooch singled into right field. Ruf scored to end Westbrook's shutout bid, and the score now sat at 4-1. Lannan would also be pinch hit for by John McDonald, ending his night.
J. C. Ramirez would enter the game, and was greeted by a Craig double to center. Despite getting Molina to pop out in foul territory, Ramirez allowed both Freese and Matt Adams to double, scoring Craig and Freese respectively. Kozma would manage to walk to put two on. A Westbrook sacrifice moved each runner up, and a Carpenter walk loaded the bases. Shane Robinson stepped up and popped a ball to center that Mayberry somehow though he could catch. A dive allowed the ball to roll out to the warning track, and Robinson was awarded a triple. Make the Cardinal lead 9-1.
In the seventh, the Phillies decided to tease us once more. Laynce Nix singled with one away, and Mayberry doubled to right center to score him. After Ruiz popped out, Michael Martinez made his first appearance since being called up. Of course, he singled to score Mayberry. That would be the end of their scoring for the inning, but it was now a 9-3 lead.
Things would get worse. Jake Diekman came on in a mop-up role. He allowed a Molina double, then an infield single to Tony Cruz. Brock Peterson would record his first major league hit when Utley couldn't come up with it, and the Cardinals hit the 10 run mark. Kozma put the icing on the cake with an RBI single, making it 11-3. The score would remain the same, as the Phillies couldn't muster much more. Cardinals win.
Well, not much to take from this one. The Cardinals are good. Really good. Allen Craig and Yadier Molina are good. Really good. The writing is starting to form on the wall, even with the devastating injury to the Braves' Tim Hudson. (Side note here: Even if the Phillies somehow squeaked into the playoffs, they wouldn't advance far.) Here, with some reaction to tonight's game, is my dad once more:
"Looks like this second half will be all down hill."
Expert analysis, I know. But it's completely true. Then I got a text from one of my co-workers:
"It looks like another Red October...for the Cardinals."
They're both very optimistic.
Tomorrow night, Kyle Kendrick will attempt to save the series for the Phillies against Lance Lynn.
You know, the word "sell" comes up a lot around this time of year...