This was a week of good pill tossing, and timely hits that turned games around middle and late. It started with the end of the road trip as the Phillies visited the Atlanta Braves for three. Then it was back to Philadelphia, Pa for the start of a four game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Game 1:New Fashioned Pitcher’s Duel
This 1st game of the series against the Braves set the tone of good pitching early and late clutch hits.
It looked like an easy first inning for Atlanta starter RHP Julio Teheran after striking out the first two Phils on 8 pitches, but Odubel Herrera turned that around with a 3-2 blast on the rocks in the deepest part of CF. Rhys Hoskins worked a BB after that leading to a 22 pitch inning. It is what this offense has done so well early this season.
Phillies starter Aaron Nola did not get the SDI for Nola but he did get Freddy Freeman to hit into DP with 1st and 3rd, no outs, so it could have been worse.
That was all the scoring for awhile as the pitchers took over for the next 3 innings.
The Braves would then get the ultimately game winning run in the 4th with some small ball, a single, BB, GO and then a sac fly.
In the header I called this a new fashioned pitcher’s duel because despite both starters dealing, they were both gone after 6 innings. The Braves used three more arms, while the Phillies countered with the so far perfect Victor Arano (more on how perfect later) for 2 innings, holding both teams scoreless.
Nola was stuck with the L (1-1, 2.22 ERA) on 85 P – 53 for strikes, 4H, 2R, both earned, 2K, 1BB, 0 HR. Teheran (1-1, 5.4) was just a bit better as he only gave up the 1R, 5H, 9K, 3BB, 1HR.
Game 2:Failure and Redemption
Baseball is such a terribly wonderful game of Failure/Redemption. Hoskins was the perfect example of this in the middle game of the set.
Again a little bit of scoring came early as Atlanta scored once in the first again via the small ball route, a single, HBP, GO and another single, but that would be the only run of the game given up by Phillies starter Nick Pivetta , or any other Phils pitcher.
The Phightin’s would tie it up two innings later when Odubel Herrera singled in Cesar Hernandez. Hoskins would then GIDP to end the inning, to start the Failure part of his night.
Both starters would get a no decision as Pivetta only went 5 innings as his pitch count got up to 98 – 68 for strikes, 5H, 1R , earned, 2K, 0BB, 0HR.
Like last night both team’s pens took control. To add to Hoskins futile start of this one he went on to strike out three times, leaving four men on base.
Then came the Redemption portion of the program.
That was in the 10th inning off the Braves 5th reliever of the night, RHP Jose Ramirez who BB Scott Kingery to start the inning. He stole 2nd, and Hernandez singled him to 3rd.
After a Carlos Santana K, and a Herrera pop-up, Hoskins redeemed himself with a ringing 2B to RF.
They would go on to score two more 2 out runs on a Maikel Franco 2 RBI 2B.
This gave Hector Neris (1-1, 5.40) his 1st W of the season while Ramirez (0-2, 17.05) earned the L.
Game 3:Too Many DPs
This broken record says the starters held sway in this one for the first four innings.
The Phils bumped the needle first in the fifth as Phillies starter Vince Velasquez helped himself by driving in Andrew Knapp from second.
That lead was short-lived as the Braves take the lead the bottom of the inning on a 3 run HR by Phillies spring training castoff Ryan Flaherty, his first HR since 6/22/16 while with the Baltimore Orioles. They would not look back adding one more in the 7th and three more in the 8th for the 7-3 final, after Aaron Altherr hit an RBI 2B in the 9th.
Velasquez (1-2, 3.80) looked very sharp early mixing up his pitches, but got stuck with the loss on a decent 6 inning outing, 99P – 68 for strikes, 3R, all earned, 7K, 1BB, 1 HR. He outlasted the Braves starter RHP Brandon McCarthy (3-0, 2.91), 5.1In, 88P- 58 for strikes, 5H, 1R, earned, 6K, 2BB, 0HR, who got the W.
The offense was very UnClutchable with 3 GIDP, 2 by Franco, 2- 9 RISP, and 5 LOB.
On the posidelphian side, even losing two out of three in Atlanta, they still had a 4-2 road trip, courtesy of the sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays.
Game 4:Jake is Jake
Now for something completely different – a game that was basically over after a second inning outburst by the Phillies off Pirates ballyhooed rookie “Ace” RHP Jameson Taillon (2-1, 2.86)
After a nine pitch 1st inning, he would then throw 43 in the 2nd giving up five runs which earned him an L and an early trip to the showers.
Hoskins started the inning with his 3rd HR of the season. Then a BB, HBP, and a single would load the bases. Two K’s later the stage was set for the big blow, by Hernandez, as everybody’s favorite (well maybe not Braves fans) twitter GifMaster Chris Jones AKA @LONG_DRIVE shows us:
Apparently this is so rare that it was Jose Cardenal in 1978, the last time the Phillies scored 3 runs on a single.
“When I reached first base [Jose] Flores said, ‘Don’t be too surprised that Crawford scored. I gave him a heads up and said if he hits a single you better score. I want you running,'” Hernandez said. “That hit was special to me because it was my 500th hit.”
They would score once more that inning, which knocked Tailon out of the game, and then twice more in the fifth.
This game was the fifth time Phillies have scored five runs in an inning. They achieved this 13 times all of last year.
Jake Arrieta (2-0, 2.04) meanwhile was dealing, at one point striking out four in a row, the first three were in the SDI after his offense put up the crooked number. He wound up going 7In, 97P – 65 for strikes, 1H, 10K, 2BB. The last K ended the 7th. It was the first time he threw 7+ innings with 1 or fewer hits and 10 or more strikeouts since he no-hit the Dodgers on Aug. 31, 2015. He also was the first Phillies pitcher to have a double-digit K outing while allowing one hit or less since Cole Hamels’ Phillies swan song no-hitter against – you guessed it – Arrieta and the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, 7/25/15.
ICYMI, here are all 10 k’s
This young season has shown us that these kids have short memories and ice water in their veins as no matter the bad ABs or fielding mistakes, they can shake it off and come through close and late if need be, especially with 2 outs. Meanwhile except for a few inevitable hiccups, the starters are going at least six not giving up many runs, and their relievers have been able to keep them in games and hold leads.
Young RHP Victor Arano especially has carried on what he showed last year, beginning this season retiring the first 25 batters he has faced. Dating back to last year, he has retired 32 consecutive batters. Arano gave up his last hit on 9/27/17, and the last ER was 9/25. The last Phils pitcher to retire 32 consecutive batters was Rick Wise back in 1971.
On the offensive side the 7 runs they scored while shutting out the Pirates upped their run differential to +27.
They don’t call him @ScottyJetp4x for nothing as he legged out an IF single to the 1B, to break an 0-11 slump in the last game. Santana broke an 0-17 in that game as well.
Herrera has reached base in 20 consecutive games, one short of his career high.
If the pitching holds up and the offense continues to be consistently clutch this could be an exciting season.
I will be at CBP Saturday, the 2nd time I have seen Nola pitch this season.
Pittsburgh Pirates @ Philadelphia Phillies
Saturday, April 21, 4:05 PM ET , Citizens Bank Park
Steven Brault, LHP
Sunday, April 22, 1:35 PM ET , Citizens Bank Park