A Night To Forget

Phillies rookie Freddy Galvis is congratulated by veteran Jimmy Rollins after smashing a two-run home run in the fourth inning - his third of the season.
Phillies rookie Freddy Galvis is congratulated by veteran Jimmy Rollins after smashing a two-run home run in the fourth inning - his third of the season. (RON CORTES / Staff Photographer)
Posted: May 20, 2012

The Phillies had squandered so many chances Saturday night until a 90-foot sprint by Jimmy Rollins. When the shortstop's right foot touched first base, he spread his arms to signal safe. First-base umpire Paul Emmel agreed. Rollins clapped his hands and pumped his fist.

They were within two runs and pushed Boston to the brink. Then Shane Victorino swung at the first pitch and a wave of good vibes plopped into Red Sox shortstop Mike Aviles' glove.

A six-game winning streak and chance to escape last place was skunked by a 7-5 loss to Boston. Joe Blanton was undoubtedly at fault, but so too was an offense that stranded 11 runners and hit 2 for 12 with men in scoring position.

Victorino's at-bat in the eighth inning of a two-run game was the signature moment. Boston closer Alfredo Aceves walked John Mayberry Jr. on four pitches after Rollins' run-scoring infield single, but Victorino hacked at the first offering - a 94 m.p.h. fastball over the heart of the plate - and popped out. Rollins, the tying run, never made it past second base.

Ultimately, Blanton had dug too deep a hole. His night was gruesome. It required 102 pitches to record 13 outs. He served up four home runs. He committed two fielding errors.

In 41/3 innings, he allowed seven runs - the same total from his previous four starts (30 innings) combined.

The four home runs, a career-high for Blanton, were the loudest mistakes. None of them were cheapies. He was the first Phillies pitcher to do that since Roy Halladay on Sept. 4, 2010.

Mike Aviles homered five pitches into the game. Will Middlebrooks and Jarrod Saltalamacchia smashed back-to-back bombs quicker than you could spell their names. And David Ortiz walloped one into the center-field shrubbery that mercifully ended Blanton's start.

Charlie Manuel had a chance to minimize the damage but chose otherwise.

Once Freddy Galvis swatted a Jon Lester fastball deep into the night, Pete Orr retreated from the Phillies on-deck circle. The crowd at Citizens Bank Park chanted "Freddy! Freddy!" and suddenly it was a one-run game again in the fourth inning.

Orr stood in limbo on the second step of the Phillies dugout while Manuel contemplated his options. Blanton had pitched miserably, but with little trust in his bullpen, he called Orr back and let his pitcher hit.

Four batters into the next half-inning the fans were pleading for Manuel to yank Blanton. Finally, he relented, but not before the Red Sox had built an insurmountable 7-4 lead on the strength of Ortiz's blast.

It was discouraging mostly because the Phillies had more success than ever vs. Lester. In three previous starts against them, the talented lefty had allowed one run and 10 hits in 21 innings. He lasted only six innings Saturday with eight hits and four runs charged to his ledger.

It should have been worse. The Phillies had their chances against Lester as he tired but let him wiggle free sans damage. Twice they hit into double plays to kill rallies. In the fifth inning, the first two batters reached on singles. Hunter Pence bounced into a 6-4-3 double play. Carlos Ruiz struck out to strand John Mayberry Jr. on third.

Placido Polanco pinch-hit in the sixth inning and duplicated the 6-4-3 result. It was the seventh time this season in 36 plate appearances with runners on first and second and one out that a Phillies hitter bounced into an inning-ending double play.

They threatened again in the seventh, this time against Vicente Padilla, only to come away empty when Boston centerfielder Ryan Sweeney made a spectacular diving catch.

Contact Matt Gelb at mgelb@phillynews.com or follow on Twitter @magelb.


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