Pat Burrell celebrates scoring. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
It was Pat Burrell Day today in Philadelphia. It was recently announced that Burrell would sign a one day contract and retire as a Phillie. Despite his sometimes stormy relationship with fans, their wives, girlfriends, and mothers, Pat came, and thousands stood, erect, and lustily, cheered. It was an electric celebration of a productive career that matched the arc of the rebirth of the Phillies, resulting in the most-fertile era in their long history.
The Red Sox rained on the parade, of course. Mike Aviles started things out, spanking a Joe Blanton pitch for a home run during the first at-bat of the game. In the second inning, the Sox plated two on a single by Jarrod Saltalamacchia, a double by Ryan Sweeney, an error by Joe Blanton (who, covering first, dropped a ball from Freddy Galvis), and a double play ball hit by Jon Lester which plated the second and final run.
The Phillies, perhaps inspired by The Bat, scored in the third. It started when John Mayberry stroked a hard one to left. He cruised into home from first after a harder one to left by Shane Victorino, but Victorino couldn't get past second base as Hunter Pence fisted a ball foul, and flied out harmlessly, ending the affair prematurely.
The Red Sox continued to spank Blanton like they were Christian Grey on an evening when he had forgotten the safe word. In the fourth, Will Middlebrooks hit a solo home run to start off the inning. Saltalamacchia followed with another. The Phillies spent themselves scoring three times in the bottom of the fourth, with two runs scoring on a home run by Freddy Galvis. This quick recovery by the Phillies caused Charlie Manuel to let Blanton stay in the game and keep grinding. It was not the best decision of Manuel's career. Taking Blanton out as a prophylactic measure may have been the safer call, but it was not to be...
Starting the fifth inning, Dustin Pedroia reached on a single, bringing David Ortiz to the plate. He drilled the ball so hard that it said, "Pat Burrell is hitting me! Pat Burrell is hitting me!" as it flew out of the park to deepest centerfield. Blanton submissively walked off the field when Charlie Manuel mercifully intervened and relieved Blanton's anguish. Fortunately, Raul Valdes had been getting fluffed in the bullpen in anticipation of relieving Blanton when the Phillies were hitting in the fourth, and he entered the game, finishing off the Red Sox quickly.
Valdes settled things down, working balls in and out, changing speeds, and keeping the Red Sox off balance through the sixth inning. He slipped into the game in a steamy, pressure-filled environment, and he rose to the occasion, performing admirably.
When the bottom of the sixth started, there was hope, as Tim McCarver announced that the lead-off hitter, Ty Wigginton was one of a handful of players who had "gone deep at four different positions" as the national TV broadcast crew led us all on with promises of a comeback by the Phillies. Wigginton didn't go deep, but the next hitter, Hector Luna beat one out, reaching first on an infield single. The baby-faced switch-hitter Freddy Galvis was up next, and he hit a hard grounder through the left side one pitch after giving home plate umpire Gary Darling a quizzical look over yet another odd low (or outside) strike call. It was a strange strike zone tonight - Blanton, as he left the field, barked at Darling over the same issues earlier. Unfortunately, the threat ended when Placido Polanco grounded into a double play.
The bottom of the seventh was another false alarm. Facing old "friend" Vicente Padilla with one out, John Mayberry reached on an infield single, his third hit of the night. A looped roman candle shot over third by Shane Victorino put two men on for Hunter Pence who, after a lengthy at bat, struck out swinging at a nipple-high breaking ball. Carlos Ruiz stroked a ball deep into the gap in right, but it was caught by a diving Ryan Sweeney in one of the finer defensive plays of the game.
In the eighth, as the game rolled toward its inevitable conclusion, Jimmy Rollins made the finest defensive play of the game. With a runner on third, Daniel Nava laced a ball to the right of Rollins, who dove to get it. From both knees, he made the only play he could -- throwing home ahead of Saltalamacchia. It was a strike, and Carlos Ruiz blocked the plate perfectly and applied the tag. A loud fly ball out later, and the inning was over.
In the bottom of the eighth, Ty Wigginton reached on an infield single, the 432nd one of the game. Luna dribbled a grounder up the middle and reached safely. Galvis hit a sacrifice fly to deep center, advancing both runners. With men on second and third and one out, Vicente Padilla and his 55 mile per hour curveephus were pulled for Rich Hill, who faced Juan Pierre. Pierre, unlike former left fielders for the Phillies, could not walk, score, or, selfishly, help anyone else to score. Jimmy Rollins ran the count full and hit the 433rd infield single to score Wigginton and advance Luna. Rollins promptly stole second, to put runners at second and third. John Mayberry walked to load the bases, bringing up Victorino, who...popped up on the first pitch.
While all this was going on, Burrell was back at his hotel, having left with all the ball girls an inning earlier so at least he could score again, if the Phillies couldn't.
Jose Contreras closed out the Red Sox with a 1-2-3 inning in the ninth, completing 4.2 scoreless innings of relief by the relief corps.
Hunter Pence led off the ninth with a bunt single, the 434th infield hit of the night. As Burrell was toweling off back at the hotel, Carlos Ruiz drilled a line drive to Mike Aviles, who doubled off Pence, bringing up Ty Wigginton, who singled. Unfortunately, Hector Luna struck out, and there was no money shot. It was, mercifully, over. At least *every other NL East team lost tonight*.
Fangraph of Erectile Dysfunction: