Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Ben Francisco unlikely star for the Phillies
The Philadelphia Phillies took a 2-1 lead in their NLDS with the St. Louis Cardinals behind Ben Francisco, whose pinch-hit three-run home run in the seventh inning was the first pinch-hit home run to snap a scoreless tie in postseason history.
It’s Francisco’s second career pinch-hit homer and it’s the third pinch-hit go-ahead home run in Phillies postseason history.
Francisco was 1-for-18 in his postseason career entering Tuesday. The Cardinals walked Carlos Ruiz, putting runners at first and second for Francisco, who appeared just once in last year’s NLDS and was hit in the head by a pitch from Aroldis Chapman.
Francisco hit for Cole Hamels, who needed 117 pitches but struck out eight in six scoreless innings. He got the win and lowered his ERA in the LDS to 1.82, the second-lowest in LDS history behind Curt Schilling (minimum five starts).
Hamels improves to 5-1 with a 2.01 ERA in six career postseason starts on the road compared to 2-3 with a 4.14 ERA in seven postseason starts at home.
He's also 2-0 with a 0.46 ERA in three career starts with umpire Jerry Layne behind the plate.
The Cardinals didn’t go quietly in this game though. They outhit the Phillies 12-7 and both Albert Pujols and Ryan Theriot had four hits. It’s the first game in postseason history in which a pair of players from the losing team each had at least four hits.
Ryan Madson put out a huge fire with the Phillies leading by two in the eighth inning, inducing an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded and Pujols on deck. Pujols would double to lead off the ninth and eventually come around to score, but Madson got his third career save of at least five outs, and just the second in Phillies postseason history.
In total, St. Louis went 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left 14 runners on base, the latter of which tied a team postseason record. That matched the mark set in Game 1 of the 2009 LDS in a loss to the Dodgers.
In each game this series, their batting average with runners in scoring position has gone down and they’ve left more runners on base.