It was a week more suited to the gridiron, as the greeniots with their chants for a team not even playing right now will remind you, than the baseball diamond in Mid April. The Phillies bats though are acting more like they are in Charlie Manuel‘s hitting season. They also have carried over the never say die attitude they showed last season, even when they were severely outtalented by the opponent. The first two games they came from behind and scored late to win. The finale they gave up the tying run in the 9th, but still won out for their first series sweep of the young season.
Game 1: Phillies Score Early and late
This game could have gotten out of hand early for Phillies starter Ben Lively (0-1, 5.56 ERA) as he loaded the bases on three straight 1B by the visiting Cincinnati Reds, and then BB in the first run, all with still no outs. He then got out of the inning with no further damage on a line out, and then 2 Ks, both swinging.
The Phils would reward him by scoring five times over the next three innings off of Reds starter Cody Reed (0-0, 9.00).
As would happen again later, the Reds would bounce back with two of their own to tie the game on a two out Tucker Barnhart (1) 2 run HR.
But the Phils would answer in the bottom half of the third with a two spot of their own, this time with small to medium ball. A Santana 2B (3) scored early season OBP machine Cesar Hernandez. A WP would move Carlos to third, which allowed Maikel Franco to bring him in on a sac fly to make it 5-3 Phillies.
The Reds would get single runs in the 4th and the 6th to tie it up again at 5. That last run chased Lively after 5.2 In, 9H, 5R – all earned – 7K, 2BB, 1 HR.
LHP Adam Morgan was not at his sharpest but was bailed out when Billy Hamilton tried to score from 2B on a WP.
This would set up the first late inning game winner of the series, as lightly played, not so lightly written about after his comments on the same, Nick Williams hit a PH 2 out HR to deep CF. It was the first PH HR of his career.
Hector Neris (1) would then come on to get the 1-2-2-3 save, his first of the season.
Luis Garcia (1-1, 5.06) would earn the W on one clean inning while Kevin Quackenbush (0-1, 11.25) was saddled with the L
Game Two: Closer than the Phinal score
This was my first game of the 2018 season at CBP, and those of us among the announced 20,895 who actually showed up saw a typical cold weather pitcher’s duel between Aaron Nola (1-0, 1.96) and the Reds RHP Homer Bailey (0-2, 3.24).
Both were dealing until the 5th inning when Cincy broke through for a singleton when Hamilton got on base the only way he can right now, on a BB, and inevitably stole 2nd. Nola was so worried about him on the bases that he lost just enough focus to give up the run on an RBI 1B to Jesse Winker.
Meanwhile Bailey, who already had two no-nos to his credit, carried that into the 6th inning, only putting Jorge Alfaro on via HBP in the 3rd, who also reached in the 5th on a throwing E, which may have been scored a hit if there had been one prior.
With one out in the 6th though, Hernandez got on base once again with a solid single to end that. But the Phightin’s would not be satisfied as O’Double Herrera would get his 4th of the season, to tie the game.
Bailey would finish the inning but would not come out for the 7th, having given up just the 2H, 1R, 7K, OBB, 93 P – 60 for strikes, for a tough ND.
Not so for Nola though, who was mixing pitches well keeping the Reds batters at bay, and stayed in the game long enough to see his offense tie it up on a 2B by Williams, and a big 2 out RBI single by J. P. Crawford. That brought Nola out to bat for himself and put no doubt that he would work another inning, which he finished 1-2-3, to finish with 3H, 1R, 6K, 3BB, 0HR, 103P – 70 for strikes in his first decision in three starts lowering his ERA to 1.96.
The Phils decided not to wait until July for late game fireworks as they loaded the bases in the 8th off of RHP Jared Hughes (0-1, 3.18) with two BB (one an IBB) sandwiched around Herrera’s 5th 2B and then:
Unfortunately even after an easy SDI in the third by Pivetta, the Reds tied the game in the 4th on 3 straight hits, a sac fly that moved up two runners, and a GO.
But once again the never say die Phils took the lead back as Cesar showed his sneaky power for his 2nd HR of the season – his first since opening day.
The game would move nicely along scoreless, abetted by Kingery who in only his ninth career inning in left field, threw out a runner at home to preserve 3-2 lead in the 6th
Unfortunately the Reds tied it up in the 9th off of Neris on three straight hits – the first a 2B reviewed as a possible HR, but remained Scooter Gennett‘s 4th 2B of the season, and two singles later it was extra innings.
The Phillies would eventually break out the brooms in the 12th as a two base throwing E by Gennett allowed utility man Pedro Florimon to reach 2nd base. A sac bunt by Crawford followed by an IBB to Cesar, led to Kingery small balling this time, with a sac fly to send everyone home happy.
Yacksel Rios (1-0, 3.00) vultured the win striking out the only batter he faced. The Reds Austin Brice (0-1,4.91 ERA) earned the L.
The Reds and Phillies are a lot alike, with the Phils maybe having an edge on power, in that neither team gives up at any point in the game. Most of the runs this series came with 2 outs, and each game was a seesaw battle – despite the final of the middle game.
I already believed that the boodiots reactions to new manager Gabe Kapler, were overblown and overreported, but I think this home stand will go a long way to showing that he belongs in this job. Despite the Williams kerfuffle and the story on an unnamed player, the team appears to be buying in to the Kapler and his staff’s patience at the plate approach. The team over all sees the most pitches per PA in all of baseball, nearly a half pitch above the league average. In this series that led to an average of 5.3 R per game, 5.27 RPG for the season – tied for 9th in MLB. Yes these are small sample sizes, so only time and consistent Ws will tell if Kapler is the right man for this team.
The Phillies go on the road to Tampa Bay Rays (3-9 Last Place AL East) another “weak” team that they need to beat to keep building confidence, for a weekend series:
Philadelphia Phillies @ Tampa Bay Rays Friday, April 13, 7:10 PM ET , Tropicana Field
Though I was born a few blocks from what was to be the NY Worlds Fair/Shea Stadium/Forrest Hills Complex, my parents saved me from being a NY fan by moving to Elkins Park in 1955, when I was 6 months old. I have been living and dying w/ Philly sports teams ever since. Now over 60 , I bring an older, but hopefully not stodgy, spin to this blog. By day I am a mild mannered controller/IT guy for a family business, but by night you will either find me @ CBP at least 17 games a season, and most other nights yelling at my tv as if they can hear me. Though I attend many other local sports, my main love has always been baseball, and my focus here is the Phillies, but I am also part of the team covering the Philadelphia Union.