Jimmy Rollins may have fallen a double short of the cycle on Wednesday night, but the Phillies collectively hit for the cycle two times over in their ongoing quest for their fourth straight division title.
The Philly bats teed off against San Francisco Giants pitching. Ryan Howard is not expected to return until next week, so the Phillies continued to share the load. An offense potent by reputation enjoyed one of its most balanced games of the year, as seven of its 11 hits went for extra bases, including two homers, three triples and two doubles. Four Phillies had at least two hits and six drove in at least one run.
J-Roll led the way with a 3-for-5 night, making the Giants pay dearly for an error that allowed him to step to the plate with two on and two outs in the fourth inning. He golfed a Matt Cain slider into the right field seats for a three-run shot to give Joe Blanton all the support he would need.
Though Average Joe continues to struggle in the first inning, he's putting together a solid second half as he tends to do every year. While he's only 2-1 in that period, he's given the Phils five quality starts, and they've won four of the last five games in which he's pitched.
Carlos Ruiz continues to rake the ball, as he added two more hits - including just the fifth triple of his career - and raised his average to .297. This is becoming a more popular phrase in Philadelphia with each passing day: Chooch is the man.
Domonic Brown gave us another glimpse of the future when he pinch hit in the eighth inning and cranked a no-doubter into the second deck off Guillermo Mota. Though it will be sad to see him go when Howard comes off the DL, we'll get Brown back in September when the rosters expand. Judging from the curtain call the fans demanded after tonight's blast, his name will be a welcome sight in Phillies box scores through the rest of the season.
About the only satisfaction the Giants received in this game was watching Pat Burrell go yard against his old team for the second straight night. I admit it was nice to see Pat the Bat make his first return to Citizens Bank Park since he helped the Phillies win a World Series. I'm also glad he's a enjoyed a resurgence since coming back to the National League. He finds himself in a playoff hunt, but if the Phils complete a sweep tomorrow to further pad their lead in the Wild Card, his contributions may not mean that much.
Personally, I'd rather see the Giants battling the Braves for the Wild Card, but as Philly has kept on winning, so has Atlanta. The Phillies' deficit in the division has teetered between one game and three games over the past two weeks. The Braves have been in first place every day since May 31, and with a game remaining against the Nationals, followed by a three-game set against the Cubs, that string will probably continue. As I've been reminding myself at least five times a day, at least it's only August.