Sunday, June 19, 2011
Posted: 1:20 a.m. Updated: 2:58 a.m.
By Jim Salisbury
SEATTLE As Jimmy Rollins made his way to the plate in the top of the seventh inning with runners on second and third in a tie game Saturday night, Seattle Mariners pitching coach Carl Willis went to the mound to chat with his pitcher, Felix Hernandez.
Shane Victorino took it all in from the on-deck circle.
Mentally, I just thought to myself they might pitch around Jimmy and take their chances on me because Im a little more aggressive, Victorino said. I told myself to get a good pitch and make it happen.
Victorinos intuition was right. Rollins worked a full count before drawing a walk. Victorino came to the plate looking for a good pitch, looking to make it happen against Hernandez, the 2010 American League Cy Young winner.
Victorino succeeded. He swatted a curveball down the leftfield line to score two runs and break a 1-1 tie. Two innings later, Victorino added some cushion to the lead with a two-run home run as the Phillies beat the Mariners, 5-1, at Safeco Field.
Any time you beat anyone, its good, Victorino said. But to beat a guy like that is great. You have to give our guys credit for battling.
The win improved the Phillies to 45-27 and improved their lead over second-place Atlanta to six games in the National League East. That six-game advantage is the largest by a division leader in the majors. No other division leader has more than a 1 game lead. Last year, it took the Phils until Sept. 22 to build a six-game lead in the division.
The Phils have won 11 of their last 14 games and the man who has been their best pitcher in recent weeks, Cole Hamels, gets the ball Sunday.
Manager Charlie Manuel was happy with the at-bats that Ross Gload (single), Domonic Brown (double), Rollins and Victorino had in the seventh inning. Victorino stayed right on a 1-1 curveball from Hernandez and drove it the other way. Victorino had a double, triple and homer in the game.
He had some spunk tonight, didnt he? Manuel said.
Victorino has been playing with plenty of spunk lately. Hes 18 for his last 38 (.474) with four doubles, a triple, two homers and eight RBIs in his last nine games.
Victorinos big hit helped rookie righthander Mike Stutes earn his first major-league win. Stutes relieved starter Vance Worley in the sixth and got five outs. Lefty Antonio Bastardo got four outs, including a huge strikeout of Adam Kennedy with two men on base to end the seventh.
Bastardo has an ERA of 1.00 in 30 appearances. He has given up just 11 hits and three runs in 27 innings while striking out 32 and walking 12. The 25-year-old Dominican has been a huge contributor.
Hes been good and hes been good all year, Manuel said. He learned a lot the last two years.
Worley was back on the mound in the majors for the first time since May 29 when he was rocked by the Mets. He was sent to the minors for three starts after that and summoned back to the Phillies after Wednesdays doubleheader. Worley ran a high pitch count and lasted only five innings, but he allowed just one run and Manuel said he liked what he saw.
He threw better, Manuel said. His velocity got better as the game went on. He was a little wild at times, but he kept us in the game.
Worley even picked up a souvenir a black and blue welt on his right thigh compliments of an Ichiro Suzuki line drive. Worley laughed off the bruise and said hed fine for his next start. The question is: Where will that come? Will he be on the mound Friday in Philadelphia or will Kyle Kendrick get the start?
I havent even thought about that, Manuel said. I start thinking about it when I get back to the motel room.
Hold on here. The manager of the best team in the majors stays in a motel? Does he park his car outside the door? Does Tom Bodett leave the light on?
As Worley headed back to the team hotel, he probably wondered whether hed start again in five days. He wasnt about to make any predictions, though.
I just do as Im told, he said.
E-mail Jim Salisbury at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSalisburyCSN.
Related: NL East Wrap: Braves fall in 10; Mets top Angels