The Phil's have a ton of hype surrounding them coming into the 2011 season and because of that the sexy thing to do for the national media is claim they are "overrated". Injuries to Chase Utley and Brad Lidge in addition to the loss of Jason Werth to the Nationals have caused a misplaced air of doubt when the so called experts make their picks. The truth is the Phillies have an experienced lineup, manager and bench along with four aces that will contend for the greatest starting pitching staff of all time.
Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt entered yesterdays game at home against Houston tied for opening day starts at eight a piece. The tie is now broken with Halladay taking the start and playing to his usual best pitcher in baseball status. Halladay looked to be in mid-season form going 6 strong innings allowing 5 hits and 1 earned run while striking out 6. The bullpen looked shaky in the seventh and almost lost the game for the Phil's. J.C. Romero allowed 1 run in only three pitches and Herndon allowed 2 runs off two hits. Ryan Madson came in for the eighth and looked to be business as usual with an easy 12 pitch two strike out inning. Baez made an interesting appearance in the top of the ninth as Phil's fans stomachs turned. A 1 hit 1 walk 20 pitch inning resulted in no runs for the Astros and down 4-2 going into the bottom of the ninth the Phil's had a Phighting chance.
The Phillies had 42 come from behind wins last season and they're now 1 for 1 in 2011. Rollins singled to lead off the inning and Howard followed suit. With two on and no outs the 124th straight sellout crowd got louder than it had been since the first pitch. Ibanez hushed the crowd with a pop up out, then Rollins reignited the 45,000 strong with his steal of third base. 1st and 3rd 1 out and Francisco at the plate. He was 0-3 coming into the ninth but his only hit of the game kept the rally going. A singled scored Rollins and Howard moved to second. With men on 1st and 2nd and one out the game was now at 4-3. Carlos Ruiz singled to load the bases and the crowd was going nuts. A team that was living up to its billing all day as not being able to score runs, was the team that was going to find a way to win, you could feel it. Wilson Valdez singled and the game was tied at 4-4. The bases remained loaded and Charlie Manuel made the move to bring in John Mayberry Jr. Mayberry stayed alive; fouling off a couple of pitches and then keeping his focus he delivered the Phillies first big moment of the season. A deep ball to center was out of reach for a shallow playing Michael Bourn and the Phillies took game one of 2011.
After listening to all of this on my radio, I was jumping up and fist pumping like my cubical was a club on Jersey Shore. I didn't get to see it, but listening to Tom McCarthy call it was enough to make my afternoon go by with a Phillies win leading me into the weekend. I drove home with a big smile on my face listening to 610 WIP as Phil's fans called in sharing in our mutual excitement. Welcome back to the bandwagon doomsday Phil's fans and national media experts. The Phil's are not overrated, but keep counting them out and see how far that gets you as the season progresses. 162-0? The chance is still there thanks to an amazing opening day comeback. Go Phil's!