The past couple days in Philadelphia have been tense- almost like a playoff feel. It’s great to have games where everything goes right and you win easily. But the great teams can not just occasionally but consistently win games where they fall behind and where they miss early opportunities but still come through in the end. The first game on Sunday was one of those games. Hopefully Game 2 can be a little easier.
It was a marque pitching matchup of David Price versus Cole Hamels at Citizens Bank Ballpark, and it certainly lived up the billing. Price avoided allowing a run in the first inning thanks to a Jimmy Rollins caught stealing on a beautiful throw by Jose Molina, and after that, neither pitcher allowed a baserunner until the 4th. The Rays proceeded to strand the bases loaded in the 4th despite 2 singles and 2 walks because B.J. Upton was picked off. After both teams missed chances in the 5th, the Phillies finally got something off of Price in the 6h when Jimmy Rollins slammed a leadoff homer on a flat changeup to give the Phillies a 1-0 lead. Both Hamels and Price worked around a baserunner in the 7th to finish off their impressive outings. Hamels went 7 shutout innings allowing just 3 hits and 3 walks while striking out 7. His groundout to flyout ratio was 9-2 as he featured a dominant changeup that befuddled Rays hitters all game. Price was just a tick worse, going 7 innings allowing just the one run on 4 hits, striking out 8 while walking 3 (one intentional).
Price had a chance to earn his 10th win of the season if the Rays could score in the top of the 8th inning. The Rays put together a soft rally against Phillies lefty Antonio Bastardo thanks to a pair of walks, and then they did just that. Bastardo threw a first-pitch fastball to Carlos Pena and left it middle-in and up, and Pena hit a long fly down the right field line. The ball didn’t explode off of Pena’s bat and he may have even gotten jammed just slightly. But he muscled it to the shortest part of the ballpark and the ball carried into the seats for a game-changing 3-run home run to give the Rays a 3-1 lead. But after the Rays lost on Saturday despite a comeback, they still had to worry about recording the final 6 outs of the game.
Burke Badenhop came in for the 8th in what is usually Joel Peralta’s spot but Peralta is suspended after the Glove Check Incident. Badenhop could not do the job, allowing 3 straight one-out hits to plate a run (Ty Wiggington had the RBI). Badenhop then struck out John Mayberry on a two-seamer running back onto the outside corner. Up came Jim Thome, Saturday’s hero after hitting a walk-off home run. Joe Maddon wanted no part of him, intentionally walking him and bringing Jake McGee into the game to face Michael Martinez. McGee got Martinez to hit a soft flyball to end the threat. In the 9th, Fernando Rodney allowed a 1-out single to Jimmy Rollins and Rollins stole second base, but Rollins got a groundout and two strikeouts to close out the game as the Rays won 3-2. Price (10-4) was the winner. He didn’t get his 10th win until August 12th in 2011. Bastardo (2-2) took the loss, and Rodney nailed down his 21st save in 22 tries. The Rays got 4-hit in this game, but Price was stupendous and Pena got the big home run, and that was enough to win. The Rays have little time to rest as they take on the Phillies at 6:35 PM. The Rays started has officially been announced as Cesar Ramos, who will be making his first start of the season following 9 relief appearances, and he and the Rays will face an always-daunting task, going up against Cliff Lee, who improbably is 0-3 thus far this season. History says the Rays will get the sweep here. But it’s time for them to execute and leave Philadelphia with a series win.