After a disappointing weekend in Cincinnati where they lost the last three of the four game set, the still 1st place NL East Philadelphia Phillies (58-48) headed to venerable Fenway Park for a two game series against the AL East 1st place Boston Red Sox (75-33). Then after an off day they started a four gamer with the Miami Marlins (46-63, 4th Place NL East).
After splitting two exhilarating games in Boston, the Phillies saved the best for the absolute last, a two out 9th inning walk-off to fry the Fish.
Game 1:Punch In The Face
It was a game that even Manager Gabe Kapler, Mr. Positivity, called “a punch in the face”, as the Phillies wasted a gem by Aaron Nola (12-3, 2.35) to lose 2-1 in 13 innings.
The Phils scored first in the 2nd inning, after Asdrubal Cabrera got his first hit in red pinstripes, fittingly an XBH 2B. Then a rarity lately, a hit with RISP, as Maikel Franco drove him in with a single.
Both Nola and Veteran LHP David Price (11-6, 3.97) were in command after that.
The turning point of the night was an OF gaffe by Odubel Herrera which will not show up in the box score, that led to Boston’s tying run in the 5th, as he totally misplayed an out into an RBI triple by Eduardo Nunez (2). He would also make a base-running blunder that helped to kill a rally. A line drive DP to Cesar Hernandez after Nola issued a walk, kept the game tied.
Nola would go eight innings, few better than the last, where he stranded a lead-off 2B (14) by Brock Holt, a pop-out,k, and then a liner that Odubel did not misplay – 4H, 1R- earned – 6K, 1BB, 105P – 73 for strikes. It was only the second time a starter went 8 innings this season, as Nola matched his own mark.
Price also went eight, scattering 8H, 5K, 1BB, 97P – 66 for strikes. Neither would figure in the decision after the Phillies failed to score in the top of the 9th.
Both pens held until the 13th. The top of the inning saw the latest incarnation of the UnCluchables putting two men on and leaving them stranded once again. The offense would wind up with 1R, on 10H, 2-9 RISP, 12 LOB
Three batters and two pitchers later Boston ended the game, on an RBI automatic 2B by Blake Swilhart(6).
Austin Davis (1-1, 3.72) who gave up the leadoff single got the L, while swingman RHP Hector Velázquez (7-0, 2.45) earned the W for 1 inning of work.
To end on a positive note, this was arguably Nola’s best outing, certainly of the season, and possibly his career. He and the pen held this vaunted offense to 5H, 1R – through 12 innings at least. The top five in the Red Sox order were 0-24.
Game 2:Phillies Punch Back
That is exactly what happened in the finale of this quick visit to Fenway.
Once again the Phils would be the first to dent the scoreboard. In the 2nd inning, after a Franco BB and a Roman Quinn pop-out, Jorge Alfaro plated Franco with a 2B (15) off the wall in CF. Being two outs, Franco scored easily.
“Speedy” Franco scored again on a sac fly by Kingery to CF, to double their lead in the 4th.
Boston starter LHP Drew Pomeranz (1-5, 6.56) pitched better than his ERA showed, giving up just the two runs and four hits in five innings of work, but ultimately was stuck with the L.
Jake Arrieta (9-6, 3.32) on the other hand, pitched a solid seven innings, 6H, 1R – earned – 7k, 0BB, 0HR, 94P – 66 for strikes. It was the second night in a row the 1-2 punch held this potent Red Sox offense to one run.
The Phils would add a big insurance run in the 9th, as they got their one and only hit in eight tries with RISP. That hit finally came on a single by Carlos Santana, which knocked in Rhys Hoskins, who reached on his 27th 2B of the season.
3-1 would be your final as Seranthony Dominguez closed it out for his, scary but effective 11th save. The scary part was the BB and HBP to start the inning. The effective part was a swinging K, a pop out, and a backwards K to end the game.
The Phils pitching staff would allow only three runs in 25 innings to the best offense in baseball. Yes the starters ate up 15 of those innings, but the much maligned pen did the rest.
The team also showed, for two games at least, that they can handle an intense hostile crowd, in a big game type atmosphere.
Game 3:Phightin’s save the best punch for last
As a precursor to what is sure to be an emotional alumni weekend celebrating the 2008 WS Championship team as well as Roy Halladay, the Phils started a four game series with the Marlins on Thursday.
Phillies starter Nick Pivetta (6-9, 4.75) had a great chance to prove that he deserves the confidence the Phillies front office is showing in him.
Nick’s 1st three innings were very good, and even after giving up a lead-off hit on an AB that wrapped around a rain delay in the 3rd, finished the inning strong. It was helped tremendously by Alfarao’s MLB leading 19th CS.
Justin Bohr ended that good start with his 17th HR of the season to give the Marlins a 2-0 lead in the 4th.
At the same though, like we have seen early in the last couple games, Marlins RHP Pablo López (2-2, 4.67), who came into the game with a 5.34 ERA, was holding the Phillies offense in check early also giving up 4 hits thru 5 in, the first one erased when Herrera got picked off 1st base.
Hoskins broke up the shutout with a no doubt laser to LF (22) in the 6th inning.
Lopez would be done after that inning – 5H, 1R on the HR, 5K, 0BB.
It turned out to be a 6 Inning QS for Pivetta, who was one batter away from being PH for in the 5th – 4H, 2R – both earned, 7K, 0BB, 1HR, 69p – 47 for strikes
Austin Davis followed that up with two perfect innings, and Tommy Hunter also gave the Phils a chance, with a scoreless ninth.
Those non box score holds were all the Phillies needed as in the 9th they finally found the right hooks and feints against Marlins closer RHP Kyle Barraclough (0-5, 3.28 ERA).
The inning built quietly enough starting with Hoskins working a lead-off BB. Then after a Herrera pop-out, a Santana IF single, followed by a four pitch BB to Cabrera, loaded the bases. A productive GO to 3B by Williams tied the game to the great relief of all the phans who waited it out, and watched the team do nothing until then, but the Rhys dinger.
We had seen this team never give up and come from behind many times this season, but coming into the game they were 0-38 when trailing in the 8th inning or later.
But to quote a Procul Harum tune, Still there’ll be more.
I, and I believe most watching the game, figured they would pitch around one of the hottest hitters in baseball lately. It started to look that way as the count went to 2-0. Franco would have none of that.
Without exagerating, the next pitch could be the biggest highlight of the regular season this year as Franco used his long iron to send one high and a few rows deep into LF:
This certainly deserves a @Long_Drive gif as well.
Franco’s 18th HR of the season was also the first walk-off HR of his career.
Hunter would go to 3-1, 4.28. Barraclough, who looked beatable from the start, got the double whammy of a BS(6) and the L (0-5, 3.28), oh and the Phillies would spend another night in first place.
Hoskins 2B on Sunday made it 101 consecutive games with an XBH, which tied for the second-longest streak in franchise history, set from 4/20 -8/11/2000. The franchise record is 129 games set 6/15/29 – 5/17/30. Hoskins and Alfaro each had a 2B to extend the streak at Fenway, and Rhys 22nd HR of the season, kept it alive against the Marlins on Thursday.
I noted the Hererra base-running gaffe earlier, and Santana also was caught trying to get to 2nd base on a ball well played off the Green Monster. Maybe it is because we see all the Phillies adventures, that the stat below is a bit of a “Hard to believe, Harry” moment.
After the Red Sox series ended the month of July, your Philadelphia Phillies were still in first place in the NL East by a half a game. The venerable Larry Shenk gave us this positive note below:
I lived thru ’64 and know exactly what he means.
Trade Deadline Moves:
After adding Asdrubal Cabrera on Friday, the Phillies waited until the final hours before adding catcher, All Star – but injured – Wilson Ramos, and LHP Aaron Loup.
Ramos has a ham-string injury. Of course he is saying that he will be back this month. Part of the reason they acquired him for just cash considerations, and either a PTBNL or more cash, is that it may well be September before we see him. Whenever he is healthy, he will add some pop as well as continuing the get on base philosophy of this team. This season his line is .297/.346/.488/.834, 87H, 14HR, 53RBI, 14 2B in 293 AB, before being put on the DL after his last game on 7/14. He played for the Washington Nationals from 2010 – 2016 so he knows many of the NL pitchers. The Phillies could easily carry three catchers with the September call-ups coming close to when he will be back.
“That was all factored into the components of this trade,” GM Matt Klentak said. “The fact that Wilson may not be active for us for a few more weeks is not the end of the world for us because we’re excited to continue to let Jorge Alfaro and Andrew Knapp play.”
Loup is another lefty option for Kapler out of the pen. He has 50 appearances in 2018, 4.54ERA 35.2, In, 44H, 21R, 18ER, 4HR, 13BB, 42K, .299 opponents BA. His career ERA and OBA are better at 3.47 and .255. Aaron has held LH batters to a .231 BA and .299 OBP lifetime. He had been used for anywhere from one batter to a full inning, even going two twice. Loup had spent his whole career with the Toronto Blue Jays since 2010, so there could be an edge that NL batters have not seen him much.
“What he can do against left-handers to neutralize them is important, and it’s something that we need,” Klentak said. “We haven’t really had that this year.” He went on to add “We will play a lot of division games in the next two months that feature some pretty tough left-handed hitters, and we feel like it was important to give our pitching staff the best weapons possible to combat those left-handed hitters.”
The Phils gave up RHP Jacob Waguespack who pitched in AA and AAA this year.
Both of these players are assumedly rentals at this point, but that could change depending on how well they fit in with the team.
The much anticipated Alumni Weekend has arrived. This will be another test of this young team in front of most likely packed houses hyped up on 2008 memories, to see how they can handle a playoff type atmosphere. It will also be a chance for the back end of the rotation, as noted with Pivetta, to pay back the confidence shown in them by the non-addition of a starter at the trade deadline.
Lastly and maybe more importantly for the NL East 1st Place Phillies, is showing they can beat the lesser competition – especially the Marlins – who held the season series edge before Thursday, at 5-4.
Miami Marlins @ Philadelphia Phillies
Friday, August 3, 7:05 PM ET , Citizens Bank Park Shane Victorino Retirement Night
Trevor Richards, RHP
Saturday, August 4, 7:05 PM ET , Citizens Bank Park Phillies WOF Night Roy Hallady and Pat Gillick
Jose Urena, RHP
I will be at CBP for this one. My feelings about Halladay entering the WOF before some, IMHO, more deserving ’80 guys, is well documented. Still I will forget all that, and will be tearing up as usual, at the great job the Phillies do with these celebrations. Gillick certainly deserves the honor at this time.
Sunday, August 5, 1:35 PM ET , Citizens Bank Park Alumni Day Celebrating 2008
Wei-Yin Chen, LHP