Phillies-Nationals Double-Header: Did You Feel That?

An I-Bomb-nez went off in the nation’s capital yesterday.

The same thing happened in my son’s room.

I knew my child had been busy. While I sat on the couch for nine hours watching HD-TV present an exciting double-header with a Preakness intermission, my son was busy redecorating. So before I even opened the door to his room, I said, “What’s it look like in here anyway?”

He said, “Like someone picked it up and shook it really hard!”

That doesn’t work for a room, but it worked for a lineup. Charlie shook up the order and it worked like a charm. I think before every game he should put the starter’s names in a cup and shake them, like Yahtzee dice.

Over the course of both games we had Jimmy Rollins in the leadoff spot with Shane Victorino and Chase Utley trading off at number two. But then Raul Ibanez hit in what will now be known as the "preliminary cleanup slot", with Ryan Howard in the "backup cleanup spot". Moving Raul to the third spot redefined the batting order. I guess you can never be too safe.

In game one, Raul stepped to the plate like he’d just arrived at a political convention – ready to party. Nats pitcher Scott Olsen missed his mark, but Raul didn’t. He hammered that low inside pitch right over the 402 on the center field fence. It was the first dinger hit off Olson by a left hander all season and gave the Fightin’s their only run of the inning.

But it got the party started.

Especially for Jayson Werth. He hit a homer to christen the 2nd inning, breaking free of an 0 for 9 slump.

Then all hell broke loose in the 3rd.

J Ro singled, my favorite Hawaiian moved him to second with another, and then Rauuuuuuul did what he does best–he focused–on the outfield wall again to bring ‘em all home safely with a three run shot. I wish the President could do that in Iraq.

It gets even better.

Ryan Howard proved that he really does want to be the best he can be by showing iron-clad patience at the plate by finally laying off a breaking ball to draw a walk on a 3-2 count. It was a thing of beauty. Then Jayson hit a single, doubling our presence on the base path, and Chris Coste – yes, Costey – hit one to load the bases.

But then the slumping Eric Bruntlett hit a fly ball to position seven to call it quits. The poor guy ended three innings that way. And although he wasn’t in a two out at bat in the eighth, he failed to contribute again as he went 0 for 4. It was shear torture. (Can you hear a Guantanamo Bay analogy here?) My heart went out to him.

But I don’t think anyone noticed. With Raul beating up the Nats pitching staff in game one to go 4 for 5 with 4 RBI, and Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth, Pedro Feliz, and Chris Coste all contributing at the plate, it covered up Eric Bruntlett’s and Brett Myer’s inability to get on base like a Watergate conspiracy.

But Brett’s pitching was a different story. All Charlie needed him to do was go deep, and he did. He went seven innings, struck out eight, and allowed only three hits–all personal season bests. And he did it by shaking up his throws like he was standing at the craps table.

Even after Ryan Madson let his fastball hang for three RBI in the 8th allowing the Nats to move within three, Brad Lidge finally allowed no runs in a game as he closed down the 9th for an 8-5 Phillies victory.

I tell ya, there’s gold in them thar Phils and we found more of it in game two.

Calvin Borel showed how to ride a lady to victory in the second leg of the Triple Crown, and Philadelphia showed Washington how to hit for another victory in the second game of a double-header–in front of a surprising number of Phillies fans. The oooo’s for Raul were just as prominent in Nationals Park as they were on Citizens Bank Way.

Last night Rollins showed he learned his lesson last year when he hustled to beat a throw to first to assist him in hitting 2 for 4. I hate to go out on a limb here, but I think oldie Jimmy is back.

After sitting out game one, Chase Utley got a chance to contribute by hitting 3 for 4, helping him get on base all four times. Then Ryan Howard continued the slugfest with a two run dinger in the 3rd, and Raul proved that his three run HR in the afternoon wasn’t a fluke by repeating it in the 5th inning last night.

Matt Stairs, Shane Victorino, and Carlos Ruiz couldn’t get a hit but managed to get on base drawing walks, but then the rain came pouring down in the fifth, prompting the Nats to cry “Uncle,” and put an end to the 7-5 victory that gave minor leaguer Andrew Carpenter a chance at his first MLB start without hurting anyone (with a little help from Clay Condrey).

Through it all, Raul exuded effort by going 6 for 9 on the day. He left his mark like an ink pen in a washing machine. He even attempted to take out an infielder to foil a double play. Earlier in the week I saw him try to take out second base to do the same thing. I know a babe in section 145 he could take out.

Now, it’s true our team didn’t do everything perfect on Saturday but they did a bunch right. And it gave me enough to restore my hope for the season–much like a great President Obama speech.

And one more thing… Jayson Werth is "Phillie of the Week". Does that mean he’ll appear in a calendar? I’d be happy to help with the wardrobe (or lack of). And how about positioning? I could show him where to lay (very close to me).

I’m still seeing stars. I can’t wait until the next time the Phil’s bats erupt. The bomb that went off yesterday cast a cloud over the Nationals and helped our team go 3 for 3 in the series so far.

Let’s see what we can do today.


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