The fans at Coca-Cola Park have been rewarded for their undying support. Leading all of Minor League baseball again in attendance, the fans had a chance to see Chase Utley up close and are now treated to a weeklong stay by Ryan Howard.
Even manager Ryne Sandberg is thrilled to have their big-league influence in the clubhouse.
Both Phillie sluggers showed their true character when they reached Coca-Cola Park. Instead of traditionally wearing their pants low, covering the top of their shoes, they wore them high, up by the knee, just like every other IronPig.
Many times, rehabbing players will bring comforts from above, like their pine-tarred encrusted batting helmet from their big-league club that clearly sets them apart. Not these guys, they wore IronPig blue.
"I think it's great that they come here and be a part of the team," Sandberg said. "A lot of guys don't. We've seen that on the road with other clubs. They big league the heck out of them. Those two guys came here and joined the club and they're having fun in the dugout. Both guys are class acts."
Hudson settling in ... Trading away a leadoff hitter that can steal bases, hit .300, and is adored by the fans may seem a little crazy. But trading away Rich Thompson for Kyle Hudson is starting to look like a brilliant move on the part of Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro.
Amaro claimed that Hudson had more upside over the 33-year old Thompson. That upside is starting to show through as the former Illinois standout receiver is starting to assert himself at the top of the order.
After laying down three stellar bunts on Sunday, two sacrifices and one single, Hudson was in the center of the sweep of Pawtucket that put the IronPigs on top of the International League North division by two games.
"Bunting should be a part of his game and he's starting to apply it," Sandberg said of Hudson's situational hitting. "That and sac flies have been good for us and we're doing little things to score runs."
To add to that, Hudson has hit in 15 of his last 19 games batting .333 (23-for-69) with 12 runs and six stolen bases in that time period.
"He sets up runs and does a nice job with that but his at-bats and his swings really have gotten better since he got here as far as getting a little more juice on the ball when he hits them.," Sandberg said.
In Monday night's game against the Scranton/Wilkes Barre Yankees, Hudson was in the middle of the come-from-behind win going 2-for-4 with a walk and three important RBI.
Down 4-0, he doubled in two runs in the eighth inning and in the ninth inning, he appeared with the bases loaded and worked a full count before drawing the walk that tied the game and sent it to extra innings. The IronPigs went on to win 5-4 in 10 innings.
Bizarre weekend ... Come from behind wins, day-night doubleheader sweep, a bullpen filled with Reading Phillies, oppressive heat, weird innings where you give up three wild pitches, a passed ball, and you still win.
Add in a walk-off walk, a walk-off wild pitch, that followed a 14-1 loss on Saturday where third basemen Tug Hulett stepped to the mound to throw knuckle balls to secure a perfect inning, and then step to the plate in the bottom of the ninth to hit a home run.
Those are some of the strange things that occurred at Coca-Cola Park. None of that, though, was as bizarre as the wild pitch by starter Scott Elarton Friday night. With two on, the MLB veteran righty was trying to load the bases with a one-out intentional walk.
Everything went according to plan through the first three offerings. Then, the fourth pitch, sailed on him. Even if catcher Tuffy Gosewisch was ten-feet tall, he probably never would have reached it. The runner scored from third.
After the game, Elarton shrugged with both arms outward, embarrassingly smiled and conceded, "Cross that off the list of things I've never done before."
Quoteable: "It was awesome ... The ultimate goal is in the bigs and if I am not going to be there I am going to play my butt off. So I get three days in Buffalo and that is awesome," Kevin Frandsen on his selection to Triple-A All-Star game.
Where are they now? ... Travis Blackley: The Australian left-hander was a part of the first, dismal year of the IronPigs. Frustrated by injuries, control, and cold weather, Blackley's stay in Lehigh Valley lasted one season.
Today, he is a starting pitcher for the Oakland A's. Over the weekend Blackley (2-2, 2.79 ERA) pitched seven innings to get the win in the A's 3-1 win over the best team in baseball, the Texas Rangers.