Jimmy Rollins led off the ninth inning by fighting off a pitch in on his hands between first and second for a base hit. Brandon Lyon next saw Ryan Howard come to the plate, representing the tying run with nobody out. Lyon nibbled and ran the count full to the Big Piece on a great at-bat before knocking a cutter up the middle. Because the Astros were in double-play defense rather than the typical Howard shift, the ball got through and put runners on 1st and 2nd with nobody out for Raul Ibanez, who was 0-3 on the day.
As Brandon Lyon’s blood pressure started to rise, he benefited from a generous strike call from the home plate umpire which led to an Ibanez infield pop up and the first out of the inning. Ben Francisco came up next and watched a “Hit Me” fastball to start the at-bat. Rollins sneakily stole third, but Howard didn’t follow him for the double steal and runners were on 1st and 3rd. Francisco got a breaking ball off the end of his bat, which broke, but the ball found a hole over the shortstop’s head and scored Jimmy.
With Howard representing the tying run on second and Francisco as the winning run on first, Carlos Ruiz came up and completely ripped a pitch to left that just barely went foul. Down in the count 0-2, Chooch fought back before getting good wood on a ball low, pulling it to the left of the shortstop and loading the bases for Double Play Machine Wilson Valdez. But that wasn’t what happened today — Wilson ripped another pitch wide of shortstop Angel Sanchez which scored Howard and advanced each runner up a base to tie the game.
Pinch hitter John Mayberry came in for Baez, and all they needed was a long fly ball to score Francisco on the tag. With everybody on their feet at Citizen’s Bank Park, a calm Mayberry took Lyon’s 30th pitch to center field over the head of Michael Bourn, which scored Ben from third and won the game for the Phillies.
John Mayberry is your hero and Danys Baez is your winner but the entire Phillies lineup deserves a ton of credit for manufacturing 3 runs out of 6 singles. Ryan Madson was the one to give Mayberry the shaving cream pie in his post-game conference with Sarge.
Game 1 of 162 is in the books with the Phillies stealing one from Brandon Lyon and the Astros.