Well, I think the lesson today is that Phillies fans better be ready for some tight ones. It was a pretty ugly first 6 innings. Fortunately, Halladay gets off the hook for a loss he wouldn’t have deserved. The best takeaway from this one might be that regardless of what everyone else thinks, the Phillies still have confidence in themselves late and think good things are going to happen. Really nice effort by the bench guys today (Orr, Gload and Mayberry) and that doesn’t even include Valdez starting and getting 2 hits. An Opening Day loss just because it was Halladay vs. Myers (who looks like he swallowed Joe Blanton) wouldn’t have felt too good, but now everyone can be properly elated for Cliff Lee Day tomorrow. If you missed the Live Blog, it starts from the bottom. Relive the magic.
* Game-winning RBI base-hit for Mayberry! Phils win, 5-4! Just an everyday win. You’re off the hook, Herndon…for now.
* Harry Kalas voice, “Base-hit Wilson Valdez.” Game tied, 4-4. John Mayberry pinch hitting, need a fly ball.
*Base hit Ruiz. Get ready for the “Charlie, any thoughts about pinch-running for Howard in the 9th,” question. Bases loaded, 1 out, Willy Valdez coming up.
* Chooch hits an absolute laser-beam down the left field line, 10 feet foul. That would have tied it. Crowd into it, unbelievable amount of tension for Opening Day.
* Howard rips a single to center, after an Ibanez pop-up Rollins steals third but Howard remains camped on 1st. Francisco flips a single into left to bring the Phillies to 4-3. Now, we can officially blame the umpires. That’s a relief.
* As ugly as it has been at times for the Phillies today they’ve got Ryan Howard up as the tying run in the 9th. Take your chances…
*Astros trotting out some guy named Wilton Lopez for the 8th. I’d say let’s try to work some walks, but Valdez is up.
* Some decent situational hitting gets the Phils back to 4-2. It’d be nice to have that run from earlier, but they haven’t done enough on offense yet to really deserve this one. Still, Herndon remains in my dog house.
*Guess it wasn’t the live blog, Phils trail 4-0 headed to the bottom of the 7th, after the Astros bust it open a bit against Herndon. I’m not going to jump to conclusions after this game, but Herndon isn’t a guy I liked coming in. Not much going for the Phillies today, this game will give people plenty to worry about. Not many hits, shaky defense at times, no 7th inning guy…
*Pence doubles to right-center, putting Astros at 2nd and 3rd with no outs. Lee pops out to Valdez. During Bill Hall’s at-bat Sarge keeps it recent with his references, “Nolan Ryan and J.R. Richard.” Earlier he was talking about Ferguson Jenkins. Hall gets an RBI ground out, 1-0 Astros. I have to conclude the live blog is a jinx, so I’m going to take a break for a while.
*Francisco lines out to 3rd. Probably the hardest ball the Phils have hit today. It’s going to take some patience watching the Phils offense this year at times. Their swing early strategy on Myers hasn’t panned out through the first 5 innings.
* Ben Francisco plays a routine fly ball into a double. Werth might have hit a buck with runners in scoring position, but he would have made that catch. The starting RF for Des Moines, Iowa in the Little League WS would make that catch. Myers gets his 2nd base hit of the day, but Roy wiggles out of it again.
*Halladay has his worst inning, giving up some hard hit balls, but gets out of some trouble. Phils need to scratch out a lead. First run in this one could be huge. Get in the mix, POLLY!
* Wilson Valdez doubles into left field corner, performs the worst slide I’ve seen in a long time. Halladay tries his own version of the liner up the middle. It’s bobbled, umpire blows the call, calls him out possibly ruining a Phils rally.
*Halladay gives up a single up the middle to Brett Myers. Myers crushes it, the ball goes 120 feet in the air. Michael Bourn lines out to Ryan Howard to erase the mistake. I’m thinking Chooch starts a rally here.
*Ryan Howard gets the 1st hit of the year, but is erased on a double play. Ibanez got ahead 3-1, and then hit a tailor made 4-6-3. Right now this game has 2-1, 2-0 written all over it.
*Halladay 4 K’s through the first two innings. Just made Chris Johnson look like the offensive equivalent of Baba Booey’s 1st pitch efforts.
*Quick 1, 2, 3 for Myers as well. Victorino flies to warning track. Rollins swings at first pitch. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
*Halladay pours in strike one, then get’s Michael Bourn to fly out to center. Some guy named Angel Sanchez is hitting 2nd for the Astros, who gets rung up on a ball. The strikeout pushes my ESPN Streak for the Cash streak to 2. This is probably as high as it will get all month. Hunter Pence, a rare Astro that can hit, also punches out. Three Up, Three Down. Whoops.
*Wheels is overstimulated. You think the players are lucky? Wheels has been working for the Phils for about 40 years. Job security.
*No Boyz II Men.
*Brett Myers gets booed during the intros, which isn’t that big of a deal, but there was a smattering applause for Jason Michaels. Can’t make Bretty feel too good. Lots of empty seats. Everyone must be getting ready to peak at 1:05.
* Terrible rendition of America the Beautiful. Can I say that? Great song, awful version. Hopefully Boyz II Men does the Anthem.
The Phillies are making their way into the stadium through the center field entrance, which has become their new tradition. It’s no Kite Man, but the fans seem to like it. Pretty subdued atmosphere at this point. Halladay looks like he’s ready to go, meaning stone-faced and a little scary. Shame about the weather, the good news is we’re no longer at the Vet where they’d have the little trucks out to dry the turf. That never worked, by the way…twenty five minutes to first pitch.