Buck Slams Oswalt, Phillies Drop Opener

Posted by Kevin Durso

Baseball is where the excitement is in Philly sports. So, when the Phillies get caught up in the weather of the summer, and get a few extra days off here and there, the games that actually get played are expected to be good. This one was everything but that. The Marlins got hit after hit in this one, and with the Phillies having no answer, were able to put this one away in a hurry.

The Marlins took advantage of an early error by the Phils to get on the board first. A throwing error by Wilson Valdez set up first and third with no outs. Logan Morrison followed by grounding into a double play, but a run scored to put the Marlins on the board.

Valdez redeemed himself in the third. He hadn't homered all season, and was starting to become the victim of some jokes from teammates. Joke no more, as Valdez blasted a solo shot to tie the game.

The Marlins got the run right back in the fourth. A leadoff double by Mike Stanton set up an RBI double by Greg Dobbs, giving the Marlins the lead back.

Roy Oswalt wasn't having his best night on the mound, and it was clear, but he was managing to keep the game close. That was until the sixth, when his mediocre stuff tonight finally caught up with him. Three straight singles to open the inning loaded the bases. John Buck followed by breaking the game opened. He lofted a fly ball to right that carried right into the first row of the stands for a grand slam, giving the Marlins a 6-1 lead. Roy Oswalt's night was done after that, as he allowed six runs (five earned), on 12 hits, walking one and striking out two.

The Phillies, as usual, refused to go quietly. With a two-out rally going in the sixth, as Placido Polanco and Chase Utley each picked up hits, Ryan Howard came to the plate, but not before Clay Hensley was removed for lefty Mike Dunn. Howard has hit righties so much better this season, especially for power, so it seemed like a smart move. Until Howard got a hold of Dunn's 1-0 pitch. Howard blasted a three-run shot, pulling the Phils to within two runs. The Phillies would even get the tying run to the plate in the inning, but Carlos Ruiz flied out to end the threat.

David Herndon came on to finish the sixth, and pitch a scoreless seventh. Mike Stutes came on to pitch a scoreless eighth.

The Phillies managed to get the tying run to the plate in the eighth. Polanco reached on an error by Greg Dobbs. From there, Chase Utley popped out weakly to short. Ryan Howard was caught looking. Hunter Pence managed to move Polanco to third with a single, but the Phillies could do nothing with the tying run on base, as John Mayberry Jr. was also called out on strikes to end the inning.

Ryan Madson came on for the ninth, and was able to hold that margin for the Phils. Raul Ibanez allowed the tying run to get to the plate with a single. Michael Martinez doubled to cut the lead to one. But, the Phillies couldn't finish the rally, and they dropped the opener to the Marlins, 6-5.

The Phillies really just had an unlucky game. Another first inning error haunted them, and when the Marlins finally got a huge chance to capitalize on a shaky outing by Roy Oswalt, they did. Give the Phillies some credit. They took yet another game they had no right being in, and made it a game. All that came too little, too late. And with the Marlins' bullpen giving the Phillies chances, they just couldn't get the big hit when they needed it.

The Phillies did get some strong offense, and had it not been for the sixth inning, who knows how this game would have turned out. Oswalt's outing was the reason the Phillies didn't win this game, but it also does involve the offense, who spent the first five inning struggling to get anything going. For most of the night, it seemed like one of those frustrating nights for the offense. By the time the game had ended, the Phillies had at least modest enough numbers that it indicates they could have won. But enough of all the possibilities. It is still another loss for the Phillies, who may have to carry that one with them until Monday night. It all depends on how the weather and Irene responds tomorrow.