It took three games, but fans were finally treated to a classic Coors Field ball game on Sunday afternoon. After two straight games of one-run ball, the Phillies' bats woke up in a loud manner, collecting double digit runs in their hard-fought 10-9 victory over the Rockies. Despite the road trip getting off to a dreadful start, the team garnered a bit of momentum with the holiday win, and they had the perfect man on the mound to keep said momentum barreling forward. Cliff Lee, coming off a complete game loss against the Atlanta Braves, stood to face the Los Angeles Dodgers, a team he has had major success against in his career. Opposing him was league journeyman Paul Maholm in his first year with the California-based team.
The Game: Philadelphia scored several runs late in yesterday's ball game, and looked to keep that streak going early in this contest. Tony Gwynn helped spark that fire with a leadoff walk in the first inning. Jimmy Rollins was the next batter, and he singled out to Yasiel Puig in right field. Following a fly out by Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz, batting cleanup for the second time this season, got an opportunity to bat with one away. 18 games into the season, Chooch got his first RBIs of the season, sending the ball into the right field corner for a 2 RBI double that gave his team a quick 2-0 lead.
In the bottom of that same inning, Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez batted with two away and Yasiel Puig standing on second. The ball was sent up the middle where Chase Utley made the stop. Instead of throwing to first, Utley made a remarkable play to catch Puig off guard and threw the ball to Ruiz at the plate. A run down ensued, and Puig was tagged for the third out, saving an early run from scoring.
Scoring, at least for the Phillies' sake, resumed in the fifth inning. Both Rollins and Utley were set down quickly, seemingly setting up a quiet frame. A walk to Carlos Ruiz helped stretch out the inning, and set the stage for The Big Piece, Ryan Howard. With the first pitch he saw, Howard swung a high bat, and sent the ball into the left-center field seats for a two-run homerun, his fifth of the season. They weren't finished for the inning just yet, as John Mayberry Jr. and Domonic Brown both singled. Freddy Galvis bounced a ball back to Maholm on the mound that should have stopped the inning, but an errant throw by Maholm into right field Mayberry to score. After 5, the Phillies led 5-0.
During this entire time, Cliff Lee was nothing short of masterful on the mound. Matt Kemp led off the second inning with a single, but Lee went on to retire the next 20 batters before catcher Tim Ferdowicz singled with two away in the eighth. For the 30th time in his career, 22nd with the Phillies, Lee’s number of strikeouts reached double digits, reaching 10 on the night. He would exit the game after 8 innings, giving way to Jeff Manship.
In the ninth, the Phillies chose to add a few insurance runs to the box score. With two away, Chase Utley doubled into the left field corner. Cleanup hitter Carlos Ruiz came to the plate next, and after entering the night with 0 HR and 0 RBIs, Chooch would hit his first homerun. On the night, Ruiz was 3-for-4 with a homerun and 4 RBIs.
With a 7-0 lead over the opponent, Manship came into the game with a comfortable cushion. He'd face Yasiel Puig and Justin Turner, setting both down to start the inning. Hanley Ramirez would work the walk, but Adrian Gonzalez grounded to short to end the ballgame. The Phillies successfully shutout the LA Dodgers and walked away with a 7-0 victory.
Impact: A couple of good signs for the Phillies came out of this ballgame. Stellar desensive plays from the likes of Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz only helped to highlight the magnificent ballgame by Cliff Lee. Since his garbage line of an Opening Day start, Lee has been nothing short of a $20+ million dollar pitcher for the ballclub, something they will need all season long. Two offensive stars stood out in the game as well, both in unfamiliar postions. Carlos Ruiz, batting in the cleanup role, had three hits on the night and reeled in his first handful of RBIs on the year. Right behind him, and perhaps the best set of news for the team, was Ryan Howard. From the five hole, Piece continued his hot streak of hitting from yesterday, adding two more tonight, including his fifth dinger of the year. Now batting .275, Howard seems to have everything going for him.
Up Next: A much tougher task faces the Phillies in tomorrow night's ball game, when they are set to face Hyun Jin Ryu, currently boasting a 1.93 ERA with 25 Ks. For the Phillies, it will be A.J. Burnett still looking for his first victory of 2014.