The Phillies had played forty six games in 2011 without all-star second baseman Chase Utley and managed to scrap their way to the best record in baseball during that time. For Phillies fans however, things just didn’t feel right. That all changed last night at Citizen’s Bank Park when the Phillies hosted the Cincinnati Reds in the first of a three game series. When Utley was announced in the starting line-up a roar went up from the crowd. When the Phillies took the field in the top of the 1st inning, things felt right for the first time all season.
Cole Hamels quickly downed the Reds in order and after Jimmy Rollins led off the bottom of the 1st with a single, it was time for Utley’s first at-bat of the 2011 season. It was no surprise that he received a standing ovation from the sold-out crowd in south Philadelphia. A few pitches later, Utley drove the ball to deep center field but it was caught just short of the warning track. Fans continued to cheer, Utley was back, his first hit could wait.
Moments later, Placido Polanco hit a two run HR to left field and, as Roy Halladay would say, things only got funner from there.
With the score still 2-0 Philadelphia in the bottom of the 3rd inning, the Phillies bats got crazy hot. At the end of the 3rd, capped off by a three run HR by Jimmy Rollins, the Phillies had added another seven runs and held a 9-0 lead.
Jay Bruce hit a three run HR for the Reds in the top of the 4th to cut the lead to six runs but Raul Ibanez knocked a solo shot out of the park in the bottom half of the inning to put the Phillies up 10-3. There would be no scoring, by either team, in the final five innings.
For the Phillies, the contributions were many. Carlos Ruiz had a 3-for-3 night at the plate. Ryan Howard added two hits as did Rollins, Ibanez, and Polanco who each had a second hit to go along with their HR’s.
Domonic Brown had a hit, as did John Mayberry Jr. who also added a pair of RBI. Even pitcher Cole Hamels got in on the action adding a hit and an RBI to the mix. Ironically, the only Phillies starter that did not record a hit, was Utley, who went 0-5 but continued to get the loudest cheers each time he stepped to the plate. The Phillies ended the game with 14 hits.
Reigning NL MVP Joey Votto went hitless for the Reds. Jay Bruce was the only bright spot for the Reds going 3-for-4. The rest of the team had just two hits total. Scott Rolen, who went 1-for-3, received his traditional Philadelphia round of boos when he was announced before the game and each time he came to the plate.
Hamels finally got some serious run support and was in no danger of losing the game even after he surrendered the three runs in the forth. He pitched six innings total, earning his 6th win of the season. The Phillies bullpen looked sharp in the 7th, 8th, & 9th. Michael Stutes, Antonio Bastardo, and Danys Baez each pitched a perfect inning. None of them allowed so much as a walk to the Reds.
For the Reds, Bronson Arroyo was responsible for nine of the Phillies runs and was eventually pulled from the game, after the Rollins HR, with two outs in the 3rd.
The two teams meet again on Tuesday night as Vance Worley takes the mound for the Phillies against the Reds’ Johnny Cueto.
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