The Philadelphia Phillies (52-48, 3rd Place NL East) finished their short road trip after taking a low scoring series from the Pittsburgh Pirates, visiting the Detroit Tigers (30-65, Last Place AL Central) for two games.
The opener started as a high scoring affair, but then proved otherwise, while it took awhile in game two for the offense to kick in, but the Phils would take both from the Tigers.
Game One: Looong, but successful Night
The Tigers wasted no time, getting on the board in the first as a Scott Kingery fielding E (9), and a HBP put two on one out. It looked like Aaron Nola (8-2, 3.64 ERA) could get out of it unscathed after a GO moved both runners over, but 2 outs, until Aaron uncorked a WP to make it 1-0 Detroit. Nola would eventually get the K, so the first inning bug was just a gnat bite this time.
The Phightin’s would answer right back off of LHP Matthew Boyd (6-8, 4.07).
It happened quickly and from a somewhat unlikely source. Adam Haseley, getting the start in RF, singled and two pitches later Roman Quinn (in CF) smashed his 1st HR of the season. It was a long shot in a big ballpark.
But then the bats on both sides went silent until the Tigers tied it up in the 6th on two doubles off of Nola.
Aaron would go one more scoreless inning, 7In, 4H, 2R – 1 earned, BB, 7K, 0 HR, 105P – 67 for strikes. That was one inning longer than Boyd, who billed as a strike-out pitcher, had one more K than Nola. Boyd was also one of many pitchers rumored that the Phils may be interested in as the trading deadline closes in.
Both would end up with NDs as a slew of other pitchers got a chance to get their work in because this one went to the 15th.
There weren’t even that many chances 11 LOB for the Phils, 9 for the Tigers, not that much for that many innings.
Fortunately it was the Phightin’s who woke up first and got the eventual single winning run.
Again it happened quickly. Kingery made up for his E by starting it off with a 3B, and then Rhys Hoskins singled him home.
That would be the eventual game winner off of Tigers RHP Jordan Zimmermann (0-8, 7.57).
The next inning the Phillies would get three more to make life a bit easier for Vince Velasquez (3-5, 4.46) was pitching throwing zeros , but also his typical high amount of pitches.
This time the Phils would put together a semblance of a rally. That was after Nick Williams socked his second HR of the season.
Quinn bunted for a hit with one out, and then reached 2B on a pick-off error by Zimmermann. Cesar Hernandez followed with a 2B to score him. Hoskins knocked in Cesar for the 4-0 lead.
V V would go another 1.2 innings, 5.2In, 4H, 0R, 2BB, 9K, 0HR, 110P – 69 for strikes. It would be enough to get his first W since 5/24, 14 appearances, six of them starts.
Once again the Pen held them scoreless with Ranger Suarez getting his first MLB H. Zimmermann having the worst season of his 11 year career, earned the L. Though not a save situation, Hector Neris, struck out the side 1-2-3 in the 9th.
The Phillies staff after the 15 HR barage by the Los Angeles Dodgers has not given up a HR since. The pen has also not given up a run since the 7th inning against the Pirates on 7/20, their last loss.
Realmuto is not exactly a stranger at 1B. He made eight starts there each of the last two seasons.
Bryce Harper remains NL leader with RISP .415 (34/82) – BTW Manny Machado is 10th at .360 (27/75).
Speaking of Harper the Tigers series was interesting in that Manager Gabe Kapler, to the “delight” of the twitteratti, was able to mix and match with the lineups. Using Harper as a DH, for a slight rest, and then sitting him for the second game to really give him a breather. Kapler noted that there may not be many more chances to do so with the stretch run coming, He especially was happy that the team got the W the way they did.
“This felt like a double win and mainly because we were able to rest Harper,” Kapler said. “That was pretty big for us.”
Read whatever you want into this, but the 2019 Phillies have the same record as the two WS championship clubs.
After another off-day, the Phillies (54-48) host a huge series right before the trade deadline, versus the Atlanta Braves (60-43, 1st Place NL East). The Phils are just 5.5 games behind the Braves so this three game set could put them at best 2.5 back or at worst 8.5. That could make a big difference in what they do before the July 31st deadline at 4:00 PM. Even winning two of three to be 4.5, instead of just one to go 6.5 behind, would psychologically feel a lot better. The Braves were just swept by the 39-64 Kansas City Royals, and 4-6 in their last 10 games, so they could be coming in with something to prove.
The Phillies do have some momentum, 7-3 in their last 10, and befitting the gravity of this next series, decided to move Nola up for Sunday, instead of giving him extra rest by using Drew Smyly, and an off day after that.
One more note. On Saturday night the Phillies throwback to the infamous “Saturday Night Special” burgundy unis worn once on 5/19/79 in a 10-5 L to the Montreal Expos, and never worn again. They were referred to as the uniforms that made Greg “The Bull” Luzinski look like “a giant grape”, and the players refused to wear again.
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.