Ryan Howard’s near-cycle leads Phils to 10-9 crazy win over Rockies


Prior to Sunday afternoon’s Phillies-Rockies series finale, I realized that the Flyers-who beat the Rangers 4-2 in a comeback win today-scored more points this afternoon, than the Phillies had in runs scored in their last four games combined. In their past four games, the Phillies had scored a total of three runs (that isn’t even an exaggeration unfortunately), and hadn’t had an extra base hit. To get a series-salviging win, the Phillies would have to buck both of those trends today, and that they did.

The Phillies carried some of the Flyers late offensive momentum into their game, as Jimmy Rollins slugged a first-inning homerun into the right-field stands. That homerun indicated how the game would go, as for the first time in their three-game set at Coors Field, the Phillies got involved in a vintage Coors Field slugfest.

After Justin Morneau continued his 2014 resurgence with a game-tying RBI single in the first, Ryan Howard began one of the best games of his career, by hitting an opposite field homerun, that was just out of the reach of the outstretched glove of Carlos Gonzalez.

That lead didn’t last long, as Roberto Hernandez struggled with his control this afternoon, allowing three runs in the third inning, and two more in the home half of the fifth. Hernandez was chased after four plus innings, as he allowed nine hits and six runs, and struggled with his location on a hot day in Colorado.

The Phillies offense began to claw there way back into the game in the sixth inning, as they cut into a 6-3 deficit, on a Marlon Byrd RBI single and a Freddy Galvis sacrifice fly.

In the seventh inning, things really got fun.

The Phillies tied the game on a Chase Utley sacrifice fly to center field, which also moved Jimmy Rollins up to third, and set up Ryan Howard for a chance to give the Phillies their lead. Howard also stepped into the batter’s box with a chance to make history, as he had singled and even tripled since his homerun, and he only needed a double to become the first Phillie since David Bell (I still loathe even hearing his name)  in 2004 to hit for the Cycle. And he did it, at least until he didn’t.

Howard drove a ball into right field, which gave the Phillies the lead, and Rockies’ right-fielder  Brandon Barnes caught the ball in between hops, and it five-holed him. On that play Howard reached second base, momentarily giving him a cycle, until the scoreboard operator (correctly) scored the play an error.

The positive spin, was that Howard still had a four-hit day, and the Phillies had taken back the lead. And they added onto it with an RBI sacrifice fly from Dom Brown to take what looked like a game-deciding 8-6 lead. The Phillies always interesting bullpen wasn’t having it.

In what was representative of how the entire series went, Jake Diekman allowed Troy Tulowitzki to reach base, before Justin Morneau drove his second homerun in as many days into the right-field stands, to re-tie the game.

What was uncharacteristic to the series, or the Phillies in general, was that the Phillies bats didn’t disappear after the Rockies tied the game.  After Freddy Galvis and Ben Revere reach to start the inning, Rollins drove Galvis home, and a Chase Utley groundout, was good enough to plate Revere, and give the Phillies a 10-8 lead. But the Phillies bullpen still wasn’t prepared to not make the last two innings interesting.

 Antonio Bastardo allowed Charlie Blackmon to go deep in the bottom half of the eighth, to cut the lead in half.

The Phillies nearly got an insurance run in the top half ninth when Freddy Galvis appeared to beat out an error on a groundout to Josh Rutledge, while Byrd crossed the plate. The Rockies would challenge the play, and it was a fairly easy review, and Galvis was beat to the base. This came after the Phillies won a challenge earlier in the game, on a heads-up play from Chase Utley.

In the bottom of the ninth, Jonathan Papelbon came on, and kept things interesting. He allowed two runners to reach base, before getting Blackmon to ground out to third, which was capped off by a tremendous scoop from John Mayberry at first-base (which of course, had to be reviewed).

The Phillies ended the game with 15 hits, which is pretty awesome. At the same time, considering how they have played the last four games leading up to this one, I’m struggling to think that today’s game is going to have much of a carry over effect.