Good morning, sports fans, and welcome to the "it's-better-to-be-lucky-than-good" post. And while we're at it, a heartfelt thanks to Lou Pinella for sticking with reliever Carlos Marmol; it meant a lot.
The Phillies nearly wasted another fine outing from Cole Hamels as they blundered their way to the top of the ninth inning yesterday at the Friendly Confines. Trailing 1-0 and down to their final out, the Phils rallied for 4 gift runs to top the Cubs 4-1.
It's not as if they Phils didn't try to lose this one. The usual culprits were to blame as they entered that final frame: lack of hitting, incredibly poor base-running, lack of fire in the collective belly. This was sleepwalking at its 2010 best!
Raul Ibanez, no speedster by any stretch, got thrown out at third base, not for attempting to steal, heaven forbid, but for leaving too early and essentially getting picked off (the pitcher did throw home and the catcher threw Ibanez out, meaning that even with the early jump there was time to nail the Phillies left fielder). Later, Shane Victorino, currently running (pardon the pun) neck-and-neck with Jayson Werth for worst base runner on the team, got thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double. It's fine to take chances and be aggressive...unless your name is Victorino and your history shows the effort is rarely rewarded.
But the Phils benefited when catcher Geovany Soto dropped ball at a play at the plate to knot the score at one apiece and later were the recipients of some free passes that pushed them ahead to stay. The key hit was delivered by Placido Polanco, just off the Disabled List. Welcome back, Polly.