Astros Spell Chased
Chase Utley put an end to the Astros’ 12-0, two-year run against the Phillies with a dramatic home run on a 3-1 pitch in the 10th inning this afternoon. 3-2 was the final score.
Future Hall of Famer vs. a rookie, 347-game winner vs. someone who has won 7 games, 44-year-old vs. 22-year-old….no matter the description, the pitching match-up of Roger Clemens against Cole Hamels during the wild card race created a real buzz.
The result, a standing room only crowd of 44,674 packed Citizens Bank Park. Of that figure, 10,000 tickets were sold after 9 a.m. today.
The game was packed with drama:
**Hamels got the first and only hit off Clemens, a looping single to left with two out in the third.
**Wildness cost Clemens in the fourth: walk, hit batter, walk, strikeout and hit batter gave the Phillies a 1-0 led. Clemens pitched one more inning and left with a strained groin muscle.
**Rookie Charlton Jimerson, in his first plate appearance in the big show, hit a pinch-homer with two out in the sixth, breaking Hamels’ perfect game that included seven strikeouts among the first 17 batters.
**Ryan Howard did it again, driving a 3-1 pitch off the Bud Light sign in right field with two out in the last of the sixth to put the Phillies back on top, 2-1. No. 53 is now in the books. “MVP”, “MVP”, “MVP” chanted the full house. His 14-game hitting streak includes 10 homers.
**Aubrey Huff tied it with a home run to start the eighth, only the second hit off Hamels.
**Houston had a runner on second with one in the ninth but rookie Matt Smith relieved and retired the next two batters on an infield grounder and strikeout.
**Howard was walked intentionally by Houston manger Phil Garner to START the ninth inning. Jeff Conine drove a one-out double to left, sending Howard to third but an intentional walk, strikeout and soft liner to first sent the game into extra innings.
**Houston had a runner on third with one out in the 10th but Rick White struck out one and induced an easy grounder to Howard to end that threat.
**With two out in the last of the 10th, Utley broke an 0-for-11 with his 25th home run, sending the happy throng home.
Oh, one other note. It was Hatfield Phillies Franks Dollar Dog Day. Just over 60,000 hot dogs were consumed.