Down to his last strike, with two outs in the top of the ninth, newly acquired Brooks Conrad delivered with a game-tying RBI single for the Rays. Coming back from a 6-3 deficit, after having lost an early 3-0 lead, Tampa Bay had evened the score with Philadelphia at six runs apiece. Sean Rodriguez struck out, leaving Jeff Keppinger stranded on third with Conrad on first.
The bottom of the ninth didn’t last long. Jim Thome came off the bench for the Phillies, and on a three-two fastball that was up and over the plate, delivered the game-winning blow, a long home run over the left field wall for a 7-6 Philly victory. It was the 609th homer of a long, slugging career for likeable Thome.
On the day, James Shields gave up home runs to Jimmy Rollins and Juan Pierre, accounting for the first five Phillies’ runs. Jeff Keppinger, in his first start since May 18th, went five-for-five with three RBIs.
Today, Tampa Bay will put David Price on the bump against Cole Hamels in a battle of All Star lefties in the first game of a day-night doubleheader. Game time is 1:05 in Philly. Price brings in a 9-4 record while Hamels is 10-3 on the season.
Game two will feature winless – yes, winless – Cliff Lee for Philadelphia. Lee is 0-3 this season after winning seventeen for the Phils last season. Tampa Bay has not announced its starter, but Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times suggested it could be Cesar Ramos a short while ago on Twitter.
· While the Rays had fourteen hits yesterday, and were 5-for-15 with runners in scoring position, they still left twelve on base. In the top of the third, Carlos Pena and B.J. Upton led off the inning with singles, but were not advanced from first and second during the scoreless inning.
· Keppinger raised his season’s average to .333, and his OPS to .804. He took what was given him, and sprayed the ball around the field accordingly. True professional hitter. Good to see him back in the lineup. Plus, he once again showed his versatility, playing both third and first.
· Too bad Joel Peralta will miss a total of eight games for the Pine Tar Glove. The punishment is consistent with the one given Brendan Donnelly, who was also suspended ten games while pitching for the Angels in 2005. The penalty seems excessive, given that Peralta is a reliever, and could miss 4-5 outings over an eight game period of time.
· Back in the 1980s, Gaylord Perry and Joe Niekro, both starters, were suspended only ten days, for throwing a spitball and using an emery board. They probably missed a blue-million other outings in which Perry possibly used some sort of illegal substance. He rode the mysterious spitball all the way to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991.
· The use of pine tar doesn’t help a pitcher any more than the pine tar on George Brett’s bat helped him back in the summer of 1983. Common sense needs to come into play regarding pitchers using the substance to help with gripping the baseball.
There’s more out here that’s probably worse regarding the integrity of the game. And as Angels’ skipper Mike Scioscia said in the Los Angeles Times the other day:
“It’s like going 66 in a 65-miles-per-hour zone.”
· For Philly manager Charlie Manuel it was win number 900 for his career.