Today brings the anniversary of another Philadelphia Phillies game which I attended and kept score at, and so I am obliged to look back at a contest from 18 years ago today between the Phillies and the Houston Astros.
It’s a pleasant Mother’s Day afternoon at Veterans Stadium, the final time that the Phils will be celebrating this day at that venerable old cathedral of baseball before moving across the street next season. The Vet is about half-full for this one, as the Phillies go for a sweep of the three-game series, complete with the Phanatic engaging in some hyjinks with his “mom” between innings.
Unfortunately, things get off to a bad start, as Vicente Padilla immediately gets into trouble for the Phillies, surrendering a pair of runs in the top of the first.
The Phillies go down in order against Houston starter Kirk Saarloos in each of the first two innings, and it’s 2-0 headed to the third. Padilla’s struggles continue, as he walks the bases loaded and then sees things completely fall apart thanks to a Tomas Perez error. It’s 6-0 Houston, and when Jason Michaels pinch hits for Padilla in the bottom half of the inning, Vicente’s day is done already.
18 years ago today, the Philadelphia Phillies took on the Houston Astros at Veterans Stadium.
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Eric Junge emerges from the bullpen to pitch the fourth inning, and he’s rudely welcomed by Geoff Blum, who homers to make it 7-0. Junge recovers to retire the next three hitters, however, and that’s a wrap for the top of the fourth. It’s also a wrap on Junge’s major league career, as he’d never make another big league appearance after this one despite kicking around in multiple systems for years afterwards. He now works as a pitching coordinator for the Padres.
At any rate, the Phils decide to finally start playing baseball in the bottom half of the frame, with Pat Burrell, David Bell, and Marlon Byrd all knocking in runs to make it 7-3. Nice job by the “Killer B’s” there, which is what I’m going to call that group while completely ignoring Craig Biggio (who was 2-5 in this game) and Jeff Bagwell, who actually had the day off, one of just two games he didn’t appear in during the 2003 season.
The next man to take the mound for the Phillies is Carlos Silva, who I am still unsure of to this day as to whether he was a real person or just Padilla in a different uniform. My suspicions are possibly confirmed when “Silva” gives up two runs to make it a 9-3 score.
The Phils get the bats going again in the bottom half, with Perez and Bobby Abreu reaching base to set up a three-run blast by Jim Thome. It ends up being back-to-back home runs when Burrell follows suit, and the Phillies have suddenly made this a 9-7 game. That’s the end of the day for Saarloos, who fails to make it through five innings after being spotted a seven-run lead.
Silva, of course, allows a home run to Lance Berkman the following inning, and it’s now 10-7. That score holds into the bottom of the seventh, when the Astros summon a young pitcher into just his 23rd career MLB contest. That man is Brad Lidge, who walks Burrell but then retires David Bell (real tough, I know) to move the game into the eighth inning.
The offenses appear to have decided that they’ve scored enough for the day, and it’s still 10-7 Houston as we head to the bottom of the ninth. Billy Wagner time. And it’s not even fair. Wagner strikes out Jimmy Rollins to open the frame, induces a groundout from Perez, and then punches out Abreu to end the ballgame and prevent a Phillies sweep.
The 10-7 victory pushes Houston up over .500, and they’ll stay there for the entire season. They’ll duke it out with the Phillies and a few other clubs into the season’s final week as they vie for the NL’s Wild Card slot. In the end, the Marlins end up winning that race, and in fact, go on to win the World Series. No such luck for either of these teams, but they did play a fairly entertaining contest that I got to witness on this date in 2003.