If you think Pat Burrell had a sense of the dramatic last night he didn't have anything on the Phillies who mounted a comeback to smote the visiting Giants 9-3 and take a full game lead in the Wild Card race. There's still plenty of time, folks.
Burrell received a standing ovation from the home crowd on his first trip to the Bank as a visiting player and promptly smashed a long home run off of Roy Oswalt. Burrell, who departed two years ago when the Phillies didn't re-sign him, was never a favorite of this fan, his erratic hitting, mediocre defense and stand-offish persona unappealing. A lot of folks here remember him fondly, however, and greeted him accordingly. Two things always struck me about Burrell the batter. When he homered, he dropped the bat and took off on his home run trot without the styling common today. And when he struck out, he grabbed the bat, moved across the plate to the dugout without any show of emotion. That summed up Burrell, who according to many accounts was hardly the retiring type off the field.
The Phils looked like they were in for a long night against lefty Barry Zito, who had them lunging and flailing at his slow curve for the first four innings. In the fifth, however, they got to him and knotted the score. In the sixth they took the lead and chased him from the game. The Giants climbed to within a run in the seventh when newly acquired Jose Guillen homered off of Oswalt, but in the eighth the wheels fell off the Giants wagon as the Phils scored five runs to put the game away. Ryan Madson pitched a scoreless eighth inning of relief and Chad Durbin came in for the ninth to finish the game. Brad Lidge had been warming in the bottom of the eighth until the Phils put the game out of reach and precluded a save situation.
The game was also marked by the return of Chase Utley, who failed to reach base in five AB's but whose presence in the lineup was otherwise incalculable. Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Chooch and Placido Polanco were the batting heroes with Polly going 4-5 to raise his average to .325, best in the NL by one hundredth of a percentage point over the Reds' Joey Votto.
When Ryan Howard returns the Phils will sport an unusual look: all of their projected opening day starters back in the lineup for the same time in nearly two months. If I recall correctly, Tom McCarthy said last night the opening day lineup was only together for something like seven or eight games thus far this season.
That is drama!