ALLENTOWN – The New York Yankees releasing Ronnie Belliard just may be the move of the year by season's end for the Phillies.
With Chase Utley's season in peril, the Phillies grabbed the 13-year veteran and stashed him at Triple-A Lehigh Valley where all he has done through the first four games is perform.
Last night, the IronPig third-baseman notched his fourth straight multi-hit game including a one-out triple in the sixth inning of last night's game to provide the spark that led Lehigh Valley (2-2) to a 4-3, 10 inning win over Syracuse.
The game-winning run was all Corey Sullivan. The lefty outfielder led off the 10th inning with a liner into the right field corner. The third baseman bobbled the ball allowing Sullivan to slide in safe.
"If feels pretty good knowing we got a 10:35 game tomorrow," Sullivan said after the game. "I figured it's raining, it's wet and they are going to have to make two good throws.
Five pitches later, a wild pitch sent Sullivan home for the win.
With the tarp freshly removed from the field after a 46 minute rain-delay and the score tied 1-1, the Iron Pigs feasted on Sky Chief reliever Lee Hyde. Brandon Moss and Delwyn Young each drew walks. Belliard precisely followed with a liner past the Syracuse first baseman scoring both runners to give the IronPigs a 3-1 lead.
Going 2-for-2 last night with two walks, Belliard is now hitting .533 (8-for-15) on the season.
If Wilson Valdez starts to come back to earth after his strong start for the Phillies, Belliard (.273 career average) might be a long-term option for either Utley's position or a bench utility spot.
With a 10:35 a.m start today, is a rain delay and an extra-inning game a problem?
"Not at all, not when you win," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "It makes it all worthwhile to come out with a win and come back and build off that tomorrow."
PIG NOTES ... Some of you may remember Joe Savery as an IronPig pitcher last season. You may have also recalled that he always had a knack for hitting as a pitcher. With his dreams of being a big league pitcher fading, Savery has converted to a position player. As a first baseman/designated hitter at Clearwater (A+), Savery went 2-for-3 last night. His overall average actually dropped with that performance. Through four games he is now batting .778. Yes, those numbers are correct. Savery has 14 hits in his first 18 at-bats. This should not come as a surprise. As a successful two-way player at Rice University, the Phillies drafted him as the 19th pick of the 2007 draft. On top of his pitching talent, Savery batted .385 in 2005 to lead all Conference USA batters. In 2006 he batted .335 with 66 RBIs, with 61 runs scored in 68 games as a sophomore. Last season at Lehigh Valley the 25-year old was a hidden gem at the plate batting .348 (16-for-46) in 23 games played for the IronPigs. He continued that tear in the second game of the season for Clearwater last Saturday going 4-for-4 with a homer, double, and two RBI's ... The IronPigs pitching staff has struck out at least 10 batters in each of the first four games. They now have totaled 49K's in just 38 innings pitched with just eight walks.