After a 5-1 homestand, the Philadelphia Phillies first take a short trip down I-95 to face the Baltimore Orioles for a scheduled two game series. Then they head to the River City for a four game set against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Make up date 7/12/18
Game two, now the only game of this series, was a textbook example of the way the Phillies have won most of their games this season, good starting pitching and a mostly shut-down pen. Add to that the offensive penchant for wearing down opposing starters and scoring mid to late in games, often with two outs, by doing so, and it has been a near top five MLB winning percentage formula.
In the first, offensive juggernaut, Odubel Herrera got his on base streak over with early on a two out single.
Except for a one out HR to Adam Jones (7) by Nick Pivetta (3-2, 3.72 ERA), he and Orioles starter, RHP Andrew Cashner (1-5, 4.83) were in control. The turning point came in the 6th inning when Cashner was already at 73 pitches coming in as opposed to 64 for Pivetta.
Cashner would give up a first pitch HR to Cesar Hernandez (5) and then throw 29 more pitches in the 6th before being pulled, but not before giving up two more, two out runs, to give the Phillies a 3-1 lead. They used small ball for those runs on a BB and three singles.
They would add one more in the seventh on a Rhys Hoskins RBI 2B(12), but it was not needed as Pivetta and his pen mates barred the door.
Pivetta would eventually go a solid seven innings, 1R – earned, 11K, 1BB, 99 P – 67 for strikes. The 11 Ks would be a career high.
Tommy Hunter (H7) was a bit shaky, and Luis Garcia (H9) would come on to get the last two outs in the 8th.
A minor kerfuffle would arise, especially among the internet mediots and phanatics alike, when after two easy outs in the 9th by Edubray Ramos (H5), Manager Gabe Kapler lifted him for Hector Neris, who btw got the job done, but was not awarded a S. That would not stop some of the remaining phillies phans in St Louis from booing the move, and sending the Phillies internet in a tizzy.
Kapler when asked about it after the game said he liked the match-ups. “There are times when we want to instill confidence. One of the ways we can instill confidence is by matching up our guys effectively.”
“Let’s be very clear. I just want to be clear about one thing: This is about the talent of the players. Once we’ve established the talent of the players, we want to really know what that talent looks like. So we know that Ramos’ slider is very effective against right-handed hitters. It’s been true for over a year. So we give him that opportunity. That creates that confidence. He’s going to walk out of there feeling like a million bucks.
“Guess who else is going to feel like a million bucks? Hector Neris. He just got a huge out for us. It’s not always going to work out like this. But this is what we believe, putting our pitchers in the best positions to have success.”
As I am wont to less and less sarcastically post on the interwebs about the then manager of a .600 ball club, #KaplerIsAGenius.
Much like the game in Baltimore both starters Vince Velasquez (4-4, 4.37) and Cardinals RHP Luke Weaver (3-3, 4.37) were in control through 6 innings.
The only blemishes on Weaver at that point were Herrera working a two out BB in the 4th to bring his on-base streak to 43, one behind Chuck Klein on Phillies all time list.
The other, was this blast by Carlos Santana (8) to the deepest part of the park in CF, in the 5th.
Vince would then get the 1-2-2-3 SDI.
In the 7th Odubel being Odubel with the dreaded head first slide into first, extended his H streak to 5 games but Weaver finished that inning off unscathed, going 7 full for the third time in his career. His losing line would be 4H, 1R – earned – 6K, 1BB, 1 HR, 97P – 32 for strikes. His change-up kept Phillies hitters off balance all night.
A lead-off single and then a 2B by Matt Carpenter (9) an out later, that probably should have been caught, chased Velasquez after 6.1 In, 5H, 5k, 2BB, 0R, 96P – 60 for strikes.
Seranthony Dominguez came on to put out the fire and got a little help from the Cadinals as he induced a GB to a drawn in SS as the runner went from 3rd on contact, and was easily tagged out. Then a FO to Odubel ends the threat. That escape really changed the game.
The very next inning a Jorge Alfaro single squeaked thru the IF, and then PH Pedro Florimon was safe on a FC when Cardinals super reliever Jordan Hicks did not take the sure out, and Phillies had 1st and 2nd no outs. After a shallow FB by Cesar loaded the bases, Aaron Altherr plated two with a single to CF, then a 2B (9) for Herrera scored one more, his 2nd hit of the night. When the dust settled it was 4-0 Phillies after 7.5.
Yacksel Rios and Luis Garcia combined to load the bases in the 8th, when Garcia would give up his 1st IRs of the season.
Adam Morgan just off the DL would get the final out after the Cardinals cut into the lead 4-2.
In effect the Phillies won the bases loaded, 0 out battle with a run differential of +1.
They would battle right back though, when Alfaro started the 2nd inning in a row with a single, and Florimon blasted his 1st HR of the season to RCF.
It looked like they would need those last two runs as Ramos would eventually load the bases, but did not allow a run, to cement the 6-2 W for Velasquez, and the L for Weaver.
Dominguez (3) and Morgan (7) would each get a H.
The insurance blast was Florimon’s 1st HR since 2013 with the Minnesota Twins
Herrera after this game is still leading MLB with a .361 BA.
To continue on my Santana watch for all those who thought we did not need him and he was a bust, in the three weeks of May he has 6 HR and 12 XBH, 5BB, a .275 BA, .339 OBP, and .765 SLG, raising his overall slash to .195/.309/.443.
..and this little nugget courtesy of Corey Seidman:
How often can I stress how resilient this 2018 Phillie squad is. They just keep plugging away until the other side makes a mistake, no matter who the pitcher is. The two games above really illustrate that well.
We all know that at some point there is going to be a losing streak, but right now they are doing everything the “right way” and even without Hoskins and Kingery hitting this team just keeps on winning. A different player is making a difference every night (see Florimon, Pedro, Thursday) which for now is making them slump proof.
And of course so far #KaplerIsAGenius
Enjoy the run while we can Phans, and start coming out to CBP to support this exciting young team.
The Phillies finish the 4 game set over the weekend against the Cardinals, ending this quick road trip. Catch our Seamus Killeen Monday wrap-up to see how we and the rest of the NL east did as your Phillies were .5 games back of the Atlanta Braves as of this posting.
Friday, May 18, 8:15 PM ET , Busch Stadium
Jake Arrieta, RHP
Michael Wacha, RHP
Saturday, May 19, 2:15 PM ET , Busch Stadium
Zach Eflin, RHP
Sunday, May 20, 2:15 PM ET , Busch Stadium
Aaron Nola, RHP
Jack Flaherty, RHP