Ben Francisco's season began with much hope and anticipation.
The journeyman outfielder had been handed the starting job in right field albeit somewhat by default as the heir-apparent, Domonic Brown, suffered an injury. Still, the thinking was Francisco only needed a guarantee of steady play to showcase his abilities and once and for all prove his worth.
Things didn't turn out well, however, at least not until last night.
Francisco began the season decently but steadily declined. He was never much of a fielder, but he was thought to be a decent hitter. Within a short time his average plummeted and he lost the starting job. Then, he lost the possibility of even platooning. Relegated to the bench he became the primary right-handed pinch-hitter. By the end of the season, he sat on the bubble wondering if he'd even make the team's post-season roster.
Last night he was called on to pinch hit and he responded with a three run homer, providing all the Phillies' scoring for the night and the winning margin as the Phils took a 2-1 lead over St. Louis in the NLDS. From all accounts after the game, Francisco's teammates were as happy for him as they were for themselves. If nothing else, Benny Fresh, as Ryan Howard called him, is very well-liked in the clubhouse. You can now extend his circle of friends to the nearly 6 million people who live in the Delaware Valley.
Cole Hamels started the game and though he wasn't dominating, he pitched tough when he had to and left the game without surrendering a run. He wiggled out of trouble a few times but he stepped up big time in a game the Phillies had to win. The fellow who batted for him was this guy named Francisco, Benny Fresh to his legion of friends.