Rockin’ Legit Bats – Phillies 12, Reds 5

Pictured: Tonight’s offense, about to pounce on an unsuspecting team.

After allowing a series of bloop singles to put him in a 2-0 hole early, Roy Halladay settled down for a few innings, giving up nothing to the Reds until the fifth, when a series of consecutive hard hits allowed them to tack on three more runs. He was ineffective at some points, but sharp overall as the game went on. Sounds like your typical 2012 Phillies game, right? Decent pitching marred by spotty defense and one or two unusually bad innings. Except for one thing: The offense woke up like a lumbering giant to pound the Reds to the tune of 12 runs.

It began in the first inning when Ryan Howard singled to center and ended in the eighth when Erik Kratz sacrificed in John Mayberry, and at no point did tonight’s juggernaut offense seem to slow down. For perspective: the only inning the Phillies didn’t score at least one run in was the second. Ryan Howard mashed his eighth home run to right in the third inning, and Kratz continued his inexplicable hot streak by answering with his seventh, a solo shot to left-center. The Phillies had taken a one-run lead at this point in the game, but it would quickly be relinquished in the top of the fifth. Chris Heisey doubled, Brandon Phillips singled him over to third, Jay Bruce knocked him in, and a marvelous pickoff play from the knees by Kratz, while getting Bruce out after a little game of tag, still allowed Phillips to score from third. Just like that, Halladay seemed to be on shaky ground once again, with some speculation that he’d be pulled after the inning.

That didn’t happen, by any stretch of the imagination. In the bottom of the fifth, the Phillies managed to put together a serious rally. Pierre singled, Utley doubled him in (Just a side note, his offensive resurgence has been a glorious thing to watch), and Mike Leake made the grave error of intentionally walking Ryan Howard. It was a good idea at the time, but in hindsight it only accelerated his collapse, since Mayberry tied the game with a line drive single to left. After a little chat with the pitching coach on the mound, Leake seemed ready to go once again. He wasn’t. Domonic Brown kept up his pace of reliable offense by scorching a double to right field, making the score 7-5 and putting the Phillies in the clear for the rest of the game.

In the bottom of the sixth, Jimmy Rollins snapped an 0-for-20 swoon with a double to right and a good bit of hustle as well. Juan Pierre did that weird thing that he does, you know, where he bunts in a bullshit play and still somehow manages to get on base. Utley sacrificed in Rollins, Howard struck out, and John Mayberry was once again up to the plate. Riding one hell of a hot hand, he hit a two-run line drive homer to left, his 11th on the year. 10-5 Phillies. Never in doubt.

The seventh began in strange fashion, with Polanco walking and Kratz getting hit by a pitch. Laynce Nix came in to pinch-hit for Roy Halladay and promptly struck out, while Jimmy and Juan tag-teamed yet again to score one more run. 11-5 now.

In the eighth, B.J. Rosenberg came in and proceeded to give up one hit and get an out before being relieved for Antonio Bastardo, who hadn’t made an appearance in over a week. He gave up a quick single, then struck out the next two batters (including Scott Rolen!) to end the half. In the bottom of the eighth, John Mayberry singled and was eventually brought in by a series of fielder’s choices and sacrifice plays. 12-5 Phillies, where it would stay as Josh Lindblom struck out “Should Of Kept” Wilson Valdez and set down two more following a walk in the middle of it to win the game. Roy Halladay improved to a 7-7 record despite giving up a not insignificant number of runs, and the Phillies offense racked up 15 hits, with Juan Pierre and John Mayberry both getting three each.

Tonight’s game was incredibly fun to watch, I’m sure, but it was special to me for a different reason. This is the first Phillies game this season that I’ve well and truly missed. Excepting a vacation in June, I always was home for the Phillies, and even in the midst of their midseason collapse, I still kept watching. The team’s playoff chances are hanging on a wire that’s about to be cut any day now, but that doesn’t mean I’ll stop watching. Until today.

I finished the move today. I’m alone in New York City, and the only sports channels are SNY for Mets games and the Yankees TV network. A daily routine, something I would do literally every night into the spring, summer, and well into the fall, is gone. But it’s still exciting. I was just as riveted getting a text from my family about Mayberry’s homer than if I’d have seen it myself. I followed this game through wildly incomplete “official” updates and Twitter feeds, and wrote this recap based on the box scores. I saw none of what happened on that field tonight.

But that won’t stop me from writing about it.