On a steamy night at Citizen's Bank Park, the Colorado Rockies and Philadelphia Phillies played the second game of a three game set during Phillies Alumni Weekend. The middle game of the set was a 6 - 3 Phillies win, setting up the possibility of a sweep tomorrow.
It was 97 and humid at the start of the game. For a large portion of the game, it looked like downtown Philadelphia was under attack by a mothership from Independence Day. Lightning continually flashed in the distance out to left, but never came close enough to the stadium to either cool things off or delay play.
Phillies alumni were introduced before the game, and members of the Phillies family who passed away in the last year were remembered. Fan favorites were on hand to sign anything and everything, and my son and I were able to get signatures from Bob Boone, Mike Lieberthal, Jim Eisenreich, Tommy Greene, Del Unser, Lee Elia, Al Holland, and Gary Matthews. Along the field, my kiddo picked up a Cameron Rupp signature. Nine signatures in one day is a good day, though apparently I missed snagging Bobby Abreu - we could only wait in so many lines.
I was able to talk briefly to Del Unser about playing in the minors in York, Pennsylvania, though, and that was a nice bonus. My son and I also got to share a "you're old enough to listen to it now" moment by listening to the Lee Elia Rant on the way home. Before, Elia was just some old dude to my son. Now, he really likes having the signature. We covered the 70's through the 2000's and got players from the 1980, 1983, and 1993 World Series teams.
For Alumni Weekend next year, I will approach things a little differently. We will split up when we come in the left field gate and go in opposite directions until we meet somewhere in the middle. We foolishly stuck together a little too long before we divided and conquered. This probably cost us the Bobby Abreu signature. Live and learn.
It was a wonderful night, and while it was hot, there was a little bit of a breeze and it did cool off some when the sun went down.
And Randy Wolf, and the Wolf Pack, were in town to celebrate Randy Wolf's retirement and to remember his awesome Phillieness (including his hitting).
And there was a game that was played tonight in the sweat lodge. It was a fun one, too.
The Phillies sent Jerad Eickhoff to the mound to face a formidable Rockies offense. Tyler Anderson went for the Rockies.
The action started early. In the bottom of the first, Cesar Hernandez started things off with a single, extending his on-base streak. Following two outs, Tommy Joseph worked a walk to bring Maikel Franco to the plate. He blasted a Tyler Anderson pitch to left center near the spot where Pat Burrell doubled off the wall in the World Series in 2008. Franco's ball was a little higher and went a little farther -- it was estimated at 425 feet -- as it caromed off the wall and went into the shrubberies in center. This staked the often unsupported Eickhoff to an early 3 - 0 lead.
The next time either team scored was in the fourth inning. Franco led off and was hit on the knee by Anderson's first pitch. Anderson was ejected as the benches cleared and Franco walked to first, glaring at the mound. The bullpens came running in, and everyone milled around harrumphing. Rockies manager Walt Weiss was also ejected at some point during all of this.
Anderson's reaction to hitting Franco seemed to be one of "it was an accident" and Franco seemed to accept that in the postgame interview. The fact that Anderson went inside on Franco isn't a bad idea from a tactical standpoint, but the optics were really bad in that it came on the very first pitch Franco faced after crushing the homer in the first inning.
After things settled down, the Rockies brought in Chris Rusin to face Carlos Ruiz. Chooch walked. Tyler Goeddel flied out. Freddy Galvis singled to center and Chooch hustled from first to third. Eickhoff hit a fly to right and Galvis went from first to second, but Chooch was held at third. The ball was not particularly deep and Carlos Gonzalez has a good enough arm that it seemed risky to send Ruiz. Galvis going to second was almost certainly an attempt to draw the Rockies into a rundown situation to allow Ruiz to possibly score. Ultimately, the Phillies could not plate Ruiz and the Rockies escaped further damage.
In the sixth inning, Eickhoff ran out of gas or pixie dust or something. As he closed in on 100 pitches, the Rockies started hitting him hard. With one out, David Dahl doubled. Daniel Descalso followed that with a homer to right, cutting the lead to 4 - 2. Following another out, Tony Wolters drilled a liner into the right field seats. The fan who caught it made a terrific throw of the ball from the bleachers well into right field, by the way. Excelsior, sir! When pitcher Chris Rusin tripled over the heads of Aaron Altherr and Peter Bourjos to the deepest part of right center, Pete Mackanin had seen enough, and Luis Garcia (gulp) came in to put out the fire. He did, but only after hitting the first batter he faced, and the Phillies escaped further harm.
In the seventh, Carlos Estevez came in to face the Phillies. He struck out Odubel Herrera and surrendered a single to Hernandez. He hit Bourjos and give up an RBI single to Altherr. Tommy Joseph then lofted a long fly ball to deep center. From my seat, it appeared that Rockies' centerfielder Charlie Blackmon was able to leap and catch the ball to save a home run. Still, the sacrifice gave the Phillies a third run for their lead, closing out the scoring at 6 - 3.
The bullpen was great tonight. Garcia got his out in his spot. If you need just one out and have two bases to work with, well, that's probably as good a time as there is to use him, absent a mop-up role with low leverage. Michael Mariot pitched a clean seventh with one strikeout. Edubray Ramos gave up a hit in the eighth but struck out two in a scoreless inning.
Jeanmar Gomez struck out the side around a a DJ LeMahieu single and a Carlos Gonzalez double. Remarkably, nobody was able to score, and the game ended with those two on third and second, respectively.
It was Gomez' 30th save of the year. Coincidentally, it came on the same night that Jonathan Papelbon was given his release by the Washington Nationals.
Eickhoff went 5 and two thirds innings. He walked two and struck out three. He gave up lots of fly balls tonight, and on an evening when it was over 90 and humid, he was lucky not to be burned with more than the two homers he gave up. Overall, he gave up 10 hits and the Phillies were outhit. The Rockies are a tough, tough lineup to face, but this was not an especially sharp outing for Eickhoff. The offense gave him what he needed, though, and the Phillies got a win.
Tomorrow, we can watch Adam Morgan go for a Phillies sweep against Tyler Chatwood in a 1:35 game that is certain to be sweltering. If you go, drink a ton of water, folks.
Here's the fangraph for the game: