I would like to give a rundown of opening day, and the game itself.
The weather was cold and windy, but that didn’t stop the fans from showing up early to tailgate. My Dad picked me up around 10:00 and we arrived at the stadium around 10:30. My dad is a bit of a tailgating pro. He has a Volkswagen Eurovan, equipped with awning, chairs, a space heater etc. After about an hour we were joined by fellow PSC poster Mike Prince.
We walked into the stadium, right around anthem time. The crowd was electric. Our seats were in section 133 row 39. We had a pretty decent view of the game.
From the first pitch Halladay appeared to be on. The first time through the Houston order Halladay sat every batter he faced down, until he faced former Phillies pitcher Brett Myers. Halladay then seemed to have trouble finding the strike zone. What appeared to be a start where Halladay would pitch his typical 7-9 innings, turned into a 6 inning start. It was cold, it was opening day and while it isn’t a typical Halladay start, he still pitched well enough to keep the team in the game.
The rest of the team appeared as if they did not even have a Spring Training most of the game. The bats were pretty silent. Brett Myers showed what he showed all spring — failure to locate his pitches. Unfortunately for the Phillies, that did not stop them from swinging away at almost everything Myers threw. Myers needed very little effort to get through six innings with him throwing nearly as many balls as strikes. Myers left the game after 7 innings, throwing only 85 pitches and only 47 of them for strikes.
Watching the first eight innings of the game, many of the fears leading into the season seemed to be realized. Would this team be able to hit? The hitters were not patient at the plate, and largely getting themselves out. How would the bullpen look if the team needed it before the eigth inning? Well, we sort of found out what we already knew. JC Romero came out and promptly gave up a run; he was followed by David Herndon who gave up two runs of his own.
The crowd was getting a little irritated. Fans started leaving the game; the line for McFaddens seemed to have no end to it. My Dad and I found nearly our entire row empty. Madson and Baez came out and pitched a scoreless inning a-piece.
The bottom of the ninth came, and it was the last shot for the Phillies. I asked my Dad if they had a shot, he looked back at me and said “I wouldn’t bet on it, but we’ve seen it before.”
The Phillies managed to turn what seemed to be a day destined for cold and miserable disappointment into a day that will be remembered for many years to come (for the fans who decided to stay). The Phillies mounted a comeback in the bottom of the ninth. They did it in a way that not many people who have followed the team for the last decade are used to — they played small ball. They came back hitting only singles.
Everyone left the stadium high-fiving friends and strangers alike, talking about the game and about Cliff Lee starting the following evening.
All in all it was a great opening day.
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