Roy Halladay earned his 15th win this year against the Los Angeles Dodgers Aug. 9, and became the first National League pitcher to win 15 games in the 2011 regular season. Needless to say, this accomplishment was a huge milestone and an exciting event for the Phillies franchise. But in order to appreciate the magnitude of the achievement, we have to rewind to the events that took place a few days prior.
A full stadium, anxious fans and the Phillies were inching their way towards a big win over the San Francisco Giants … oh yeah, one more detail – they were at the Giants’ stadium. Mind you, the Phillies lost to the Giants in the 2010 postseason, which could only intensify their desire to pull out a win.
It all started in the sixth inning when Jimmy Rollins stole second base with a six-run lead. Needless to say, Giants’ pitcher Ramon Ramirez didn’t appreciate that.
So what did Ramirez do? He waited for the next Phillies batter to step up to the plate, which happened to be Shane Victorino, and hit him right in the back. Well Victorino didn’t take a liking to that, so naturally, he charged the mound. And like any sports team standing up for their teammate – both benches were cleared and before they knew it, fines and suspensions were being handed out left and right. Victorino received a three-game suspension, which he appealed, and an undisclosed fine – he was ultimately ejected from the game.
Some support Ramirez’ response, and believe it was to put Rollins in his place – others disagree with it, and believe there was no reason to hit a fellow player. Regardless of the incentive, Ramirez sent a strong message to the Phillies – that the Giants weren’t going to go down without a fight.
The Phils ended up pulling out the win, and closed the series 3-1. However, the residual feelings from the brawl were carried over into their series against the Dodgers.
Now that we are up to speed on the games leading up to the big number 15 – it’s easier to put the degree of the win into perspective.
The evening started out with a big double from Victorino. Yes, we are talking about the same Victorino that just received a three game suspension. Since he appealed the suspension, he was able to play until the final ruling was set. And it’s a good thing he was able to bat – because he not only brought in the first run, he also hit a homer, giving the Phils some padding in the score.
Howard drove in the first and the fourth run of the game, and brought his RBI count to 89 – the most in the NL. Rollins also brought in two runs during the game and the contribution from all the hitters helped the Phillies bring their record to 75-40 – the best record in the majors at the time.
Even with the hot bats, the big heat came from the firing arm of Halladay. He went 6 1/3 innings and struck out four. He only allowed one run and nine hits total during his time on the mound.
Halladay exited the game when two were on with one out. Antonio Bastardo relieved Halladay in more ways than one. Even though it was a close inning, Bastardo retired the side on a double-play grounder hit by Andre Ethier.
Michael Stutes entered in the eighth and gave up a run, leaving the Phillies with only a 4-2 lead. Brad Lidge then took the mound, and also gave up an RBI, making the score 4-3, a little too close for comfort. Thankfully he ended the inning after an unsuccessful bunt by Tony Gwynn.
In the ninth, Victorino got his homer, taking the Phils to a 5-3 lead and helping Ryan Madson relax in order to close out his 20th save of the season.
The Phillies now have a record of 77-40 and are set to play the Washington Nationals at Citizen’s Bank Park Friday Aug. 12 at 7 p.m.