NEW YORK -- After watching his team get smacked around in four ugly losses against the Toronto Blue Jays, Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg called a little team meeting before Friday night’s series opener against the New York Mets (see story).
Sandberg got a few things off his chest then left the clubhouse. The players continued the meeting.
Was it productive?
You make the call.
The Phillies didn’t display a particularly efficient offense, but they got some good pitching and managed to grind things out until the night ended with a 3-2 win over the Mets in an 11-inning game that took four hours, 39 minutes to play (see Instant Replay).
"Tonight was a true test," Chase Utley said. "Every win is important."
Utley had a big game. He had three hits and scored all three of his team’s runs. His double in the 11th set the stage for Marlon Byrd’s tie-breaking double. Both hits came against reliever Carlos Torres. Byrd’s double came after he had struck out in each of his first three official at-bats.
After the game, Utley didn’t want to talk about the team meeting, but he did acknowledge that, “it was a good time for it.”
Speaking in general, the de facto team captain said, “We’ve got to continue to grind and pull for each other no matter what happens. You’re going to lose some ballgames. Coming to the field every day prepared to win is the most important thing.”
The victory left the Phillies and Mets tied for the bottom spot in the NL East. Both clubs are 16-18.
After giving up 22 runs in games started by Cliff Lee and A.J. Burnett the previous two nights, the Phillies got excellent pitching from starter Roberto Hernandez and five relievers.
Hernandez allowed seven baserunners in the first two innings, but didn’t break. He gave up just one run in that span. He left after five innings with a 2-1 lead thanks to a pair of RBI singles by Domonic Brown.
Hernandez has put together back-to-back good starts. He has allowed just one run over his last 12 1/3 innings.
Jake Diekman and Mike Adams protected the Phillies’ lead in the sixth and seventh innings, respectively, but Antonio Bastardo squandered it in the bottom of the eighth when he gave up a two-out walk followed by an RBI double to David Wright.
Bastardo came back and pitched a scoreless ninth and Mario Hollands added a scoreless frame in the 10th.
The Phillies left 17 men on base. The Mets left 15.
That's pretty ugly.
Finally, the Phils got something going in the 11th and Byrd was able to break the tie with his RBI double down the right-field line and propel the Phillies to victory. Jonathan Papelbon closed it out for his 10th save.
Sandberg praised Byrd for continuing to battle after striking out three times.
“We couldn’t come up with the big hit until Byrd got that one,” Sandberg said. “He battled and that was a clutch hit, obviously.
“Marlon has a great mentality for that. He always grinds it out and he’s always positive. He wants to be that guy. It was good to see him come through or we might still be out there.”