After a night of firsts – Roman Quinn and Jorge Alfaro each getting their 1st MLB hits, and the Phillies their 1st home win after seven straight losses (avoiding a feat last done at the Vet) – the Phils looked to keep that going, sending RHP Alec Asher (1-0, 0.00 ERA) to the hill. He allowed only two hits and one walk in six scoreless innings, 75 pitches – 55 strikes for strikes, against the Natinals in his first outing after coming off a PED suspension. It appeared be a tough task against the Pirates best pitcher right now in RHP Ivan Nova (12-6, 4.13) 5-0 with a 2.53 ERA in seven starts since joining the Buccos who were in free fall, losing 12-14 and four straight losses.
A last first for me and my two game buds, was the first of this season visit by possibly the friendliest usher @ CBP in Tracy M. – moonlighting after her “real” job as a 5th grade teacher in New Jersey. If she fills her students w/ as much enthusiasm, joy, and knowledge with which she regaled us, those kids are in good hands.
As happens so often in baseball, both pitchers threw well enough to win but neither would be around to figure in the decision as each pen gave up runs, but the Phillies gave up more, to allow the Pirates to rally in the 9th, scoring 3 runs on the HR by Sean Rodriquez (13) to win it 5-3, and even the “Keystone Series” at one apiece.
Asher got into a bit of trouble in the top of the 3rd inning as the Pirates got on the board first on back to back hits by Jordy Mercer and Adam Frazier, both hit hard to the outfield. Only Frazier being caught at 2nd base trying to stretch his single, kept the score at 1-0, as the next batter, Josh Bell, also reached on a double. Then Alfaro – making his 1st MLB start behind the dish -made a very good play right at the net behind home plate, on a pop-up of the dangerous Andrew McCutchen for the 3rd out.
Meanwhile Nova was handling the Phillies offense, striking out the side in the 2nd and 3rd innings. In the 4th though, after Quinn singled up the middle and stole 2nd, Ryan Howard saw last night’s E from the other side as he reached on a booted ball by Frazier and Quinn easily came around to score, but that was all so the game was tied after 4. Asher laid down an easy 1-2-3 SDI, his second 1-2-3 inning in a row.
In the 6th the Phillies somehow turned a lead-off walk by Cesar Hernandez followed by a beautiful bunt single by #TheSpeedyQuinn, and then a sucession of double play balls not turned by the Pirates, into the go ahead run. The second one was slow enough – and possibly aided by Bell running into an umpire on his way to 1st base – allowing the “speedy” Howard – who was running hard all the way – to get to first. This allowed Hernandez to score and gave Ryan a much earned RBI. Pirate Manager Clint Hurdle was ejected in the kerfuffle following that play, arguing that Bell was interfered with, but much like a ball that hits an ump, a player running into him, is as if he is a part of the field of play. In other words, tough nuggies.
Asher walked two batters w/ one out and for second night in a row, a Phils starter goes a solid 6.1 innings, giving up one run, leaving w/ 2 men on. Monday night Edubray Ramos got the job done. Tonight RHP Michael Mariot got the call. He proceeded to load the bases, and the Pirates then tied the game on a WP that if Alfaro played it cleanly, might have been an out at home, adding one more run to Asher’s line. Joely Rodriguez finished the inning with no more damage.
In the 8th, after the hard throwing – we know because Tom McCarthy gleefully read every pitch speed 😏 – Felipe Rivero loaded the bases with one out, Freddy Galvis hit a sac fly to deep CF to give the Phillies the lead for a short while at least, 3-2, as Jeanmar Gomez, not having his best month, gave up the no outs, 3 run shot to RF to Rodriquez that brought us to the final margin of victory for the Pirates.
Each starter get a ND. Alec Asher (1-0, 1.46 ) 6.1 In, 4H, 2R, both earned, 3BB, 4K, 95 Pitches – 56 for strikes. Nova (5-0, 4.03) 6.0 In, 5H, 2R, 1 earned, 1BB, 11K, 92 Pitches – 62 for strikes. Gomez double dipped with a BS(5) and an L to drop to 3-4. 3.70, while on the Pirates side Rivero – though he gave up a run (crazy game this baseball) – still got his first W of the season (1-4, 3.73), and Tony Watson got a 1-2-3 S (12).
Coming in High and Low: Coming in Phillies starters had given up 3 ER or fewer in 10 straight starts, with an MLB-best 1.90 ERA . Asher followed suit today. Neris was used for an MLB high 73rd time in the 8th. Aaron Altherr was 1/22 coming in. He went hitless tonight. He did reach on a HBP in the 7th but was doubled up on a FO to RF. Phillies batters are in a high (low?) as far as strikeouts the last seven games: 13, 11, 12, 10, 9, 11, 15. Pirates snapped a four game losing streak and in doing so also broke a crazy run of 140 straight losses when trailing after 8 going back to 7/12/2014.
Next Ups: Tomorrow night the Phillies send out RHP Jake Thompson (1-5, 6.05) to face LHP Steven Brault @ 7:05. I will be back typin’ and tweetin’ at you again then.