By Chris Murray
For the CM Report
The Philllies were able to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five 2011 National League Division Series thanks to a familiar formula that, at times, has been absent at Citizen’s Bank Park this season: The big inning.
With the Phillies trailing 3-1 in the sixth inning, first baseman Ryan Howard sent the third largest crowd in Citizen’s Bank Park history into a towel-waving frenzy by launching a three-run homer to right center. Two batters later, Raul Ibanez added a two-run homer for good measure. The Phils scored five runs on five hits to take command of the game for good.
“It’s definitely nice to do that and we were able to do it tonight,” Ibanez said. “Tomorrow is a different day and you may need another tool in your tool box, but it’s definitely nice to to have the big inning. We were able to string two big innings in a row and that was the difference in the game. ”
That five-run outburst propelled the Phils to an 11-6 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in front of 46, 480 fans at the ball park on Broad and Pattison.
It wasn’t all about the hitting because Roy Halladay’s pitching kept the Phillies within striking distance after the Cardinals jumped out to a 3-0 lead on a three-run homer by Lance Berkman in the top of the first inning. After that troublesome first, Halladay allowed just one hit and zero runs the rest of th way.
“Really, I just tried to stick with our plan,” Halladay said. “I felt like, for the most part, we were making good pitches, just tried to continue with that, be aggressive and let things take care of themselves.”
Catcher Carlos Ruiz said it would have been easy for Halladay to get down on himself after Berkman’s homerun, but his battery mate kept his competitive spirit as the game moved forward.
“It was big because when give up a homerun in the first inning maybe sometimes you kind a give up, but he was like okay we have to keep going, we have to keep fighting and we have a chance to win the game,” Ruiz said.
For the game, he pitched eight innings and allowed just three hits. After a second-inning single to Skip Schumaker, Halladay was perfect, retiring the last 21 batters he faced. It was as if three runs he gave up in the first inning didn’t exist.
“Yeah, he was kind of like a Rocky movie,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. “He got mad after he gave up that homer. That ticked him off and he hung in there and he got going.”
Meanwhile, the heart of the Phillies batting order-one through six- tore the cover off the ball against Cardinals pitching. They struggled in the beginning against St. Louis starter Kyle Lohse, swinging at bad pitches and not working the count. But in the sixth inning, the bats woke up from their slumber thanks to the long-ball by Howard (1-for-3, 4 RBI) and Ibanez, who was 2-for-4 with three runs batted in.
“The big innings are huge and they’re great momentum shifters for us,” Howard said. “But like I said in those kind of situations, you want to try to get a run here, try to get a run there, continue to give yourself opportunities to score runs.”
In the first three innings, the Phillies were impatient at the plate and had difficulty getting to Lohse, swinging at several first-pitch strikes and a few bad pitches along the way.
“It took us awhile to get to him, but we got patience with him and he made a couple of mistakes with his breaking ball up and he made a couple of mistakes with his breaking ball up and I think those were the balls we hit for homers, ” Manuel said.
After taking a 6-3 lead in the sixth, the Phillies added five more runs on their last two at-bats. After Halladay left the game after the eighth, Michael Stutes came in the game and allowed three runs on three hits before he was replaced by Ryan Madson who got the game’s final two outs.
Manuel said having the big lead allowed the Phillies the luxury of taking Halladay out of the game.
“He was going to go out there if we don’t add on, but once we got it to 11, Rich Dubee (Phillies pitching coach) and I decided we were going to take him out,” he said.