Hunter Pence was greeted to a standing ovation as he ran out to right field, acknowledging his new fans on a warm Saturday night at Citizens Bank Park. The fans weren't necessarily cheering Pence's performance on the night, at least not initially, as the newest Phillie went 1-5 in his debut in red pinstripes. They were just happy to have the All-Star outfielder on the club to help get them that typically elusive late October parade down Broad Street.
Pence eventually gave the fans a real reason to cheer him after starting the night 0-4 at the dish. (To his defense, he was robbed of a single in the second inning when he showed off his hustle and legged out a shoulda-been infield single. First base ump Angel Hernandez called him out despite Pence clearly beating the throw. Charlie Manuel defended his new guy and gave fans a chance to get their "Char-lie! Char-lie!" chants on as he argued.)
He had a chance to turn his night at the plate around late in a close game and didn't disappoint. Ryan Howard's new five hole protection delivered big in the eighth inning.
Clint Hurdle and the Pirates opted to intentionally walk the Big Piece after Shane led off the inning with a triple and Utley pulled a failed squeeze attempt.
That brought up Pence with a chance to do some real damage. He ripped a single up the middle, earning his first RBI as a Phillie and putting them up 7-4.
But the Phillies didn't really need a big contribution from the new guy, at least not tonight, as Ryan Howard, Chooch, and Jimmy Rollins were swinging hot bats while Cliff Lee lasted 7.2 innings.
Lee pitched well for most of the evening before getting into some trouble in the eighth. He allowed 4 runs on 8 hits while striking out 11 through his 7.2 innings of work. Antonio Bastardo came in to get the final out in the eight and did so by striking out Pedro Alvarez swinging.
Phife Dog also ripped a pair of hits on the night, and accounted for one of the Phillies runs when he scored on an Utley single to put the Phils up 4-2 in the fourth. Later in on in the seventh, Cliff almost legged out an infield single on a close play on a routine ball to short. Gotta respect this guy's hustle.
Ryan Madson did his thing in the ninth, striking out the side in a 1-2-3 inning to earn his 18th save of the season.
Ryan Howard Cycle Watch
The Big Piece was swinging an extremely hot bat on Saturday, finishing the evening 4-4 with an IBB and 3 RBIs. He also blasted a long solo shot deep into the ivy in center. Howard later bashed a ball to the warning track in left center, right in front of the wall Utley bounced an inside the parker off just the other day, and Andrew McCutchen got his glove onto the ball, but couldn't hold on. Needing only a triple at the time to complete the cycle, Ryan Howard was in all out sprint mode as he approached second. He eventually realized it was not meant to be and pulled up, content with the double.
Not a bad overall night at CBP. Pence makes his debut to warm ovations and the Phils bats do plenty to give Cliff Lee a victory after a real nice outing.
Final score: Phillies 7, Pirates 4
Look at Pence's hustle! And socks!