His nickname is Chooch. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
That Carlos Ruiz is something, isn't he?
Chooch was on fire tonight once again, and the Phillies finally won a game, beating the Padres 7-3. One of the side effects of watching a lot of bad baseball and blown leads is that at no point tonight was I confident that the Phillies would win. There is no such thing as a comfortable lead when your bullpen is aggressively vomit prone. I was on pins and needles until the final out, not believing until the broadcast ended on MLB.tv that the Phillies wouldn't give up more runs while high-fiving or running through the dugout to the locker room.
But the Phillies managed to stop giving away runs tonight and decided instead to keep them all for themselves. They scored five runs in 5 1/3 innings off Clayton Richard, which included two two-run homers -- Mayberry's first, and Chooch's sixth. Both guys had great nights. Mayberry went 2-for-4, he has himself a four game hitting streak, and in those four games he's raised his average from .203 to .240. Chooch went 3-for-3 with a home run, two singles, a walk, and three runs batted in -- and he caught Orlando Hudson stealing. Here's a little context on how hot Chooch has been. In 2011, he had 40 RBIs total. Thus far in 2012, he has 22. His career high in home runs is nine. As of now, he has six. He's hitting .340. He's annihilating everything in his path. He cannot be stopped.
Placido Polanco is taking Mayberry's lead and starting to show signs of life as well, hitting two doubles tonight. Freddy Galvis poked an RBI double to right field in the seventh, and helped turn three double plays.
All this wasn't enough to calm my frayed nerves, though. The bullpen had to get nine outs. Bastardo came in to pitch the seventh and eighth, but held the score while looking sharper than he has all season. Chad Qualls pitched the ninth with some life on his fastball (thanks to a mechanical adjustment, as Gregg Murphy so helpfully informed me), racking up two strikeouts before ending the game with a fly ball to center. And speaking of pitching, Worley was decent, giving up three runs in six innings of work. He had two walks but nine strikeouts.
The sellout crowd at Citizens Bank Park was hungry for a win. They got loud for Chad Qualls before enthusiastically cheering the team's first victory after (the indignity of) being swept by the Mets. It was nice to hear High Hopes playing on the broadcast once again, and the crowd that stayed to sing along was impressively large. Well done.
Regrettable Tom McCarthy Quote of the Game: "A smooch for Chooch!"
Yes, that's right. He actually said "A smooch for Chooch!"