As this dreadful season winds to a close we Phillies fans are finally being treated to interesting games that may portend good things for the future of this team. A few days ago we bore witness to the first combined Phillies no-hitter in team history, thrown by the one youngish superstar left on the team and anchored by the young and suddenly lights out bullpen. Yestereday was top-prospect Maikel Franco's MLB debut. Today we saw Miguel Gonzalez's pitching debut, in which he flashed some good stuff though less positive results. But first, how we got to MAG.
Approximately 7 minutes into the game the Braves decided to play their infield in. A curious choice, I'd say. That may have something to do with the Braves entering today's game having not scored in their previous 24 innings, and had only scored one run in their last 36. Still silly, but I don't much care if the Braves have a dumb manager. Fredi Gonzalez's interesting strategic choice proved pointless, as Ben Revere, who after leading off with a double had been advanced to third on a deep Grady Sizemore fly-out to right-field, scored easily on a Chase Utley sacrifice to center. Local guys 1, other guys 0.
David Buchanan had an uneventful bottom half of the first, setting down the Barves in order. The Phillies had a similarly unproductive top of the second, with a Cody Asche ground ball "single" that was hit right at Freddy Freeman accounting for the only base runner. The ball was hard hit and took a bad hop on him, so if I squint right I can see the reasoning behind that scoring decision. Still, his he never had to move his feet.
The bottom of the second inning was less uneventful. Ryan Doumit reached on
another dubious "hit" that squirted under Utley's glove, a play he really should have come up with. an Utley error that was originally ruled a hit but later changed to an error. Doumit was sacrificed to second (ugh) by Tommy La Stella and came around to score on a Christian Bethancourt single. Then B.J. Upton homered to deep center field. Great word choice, Ryan. I'm not sure anyone has ever homered on a ball to short center field. Moving on. Buchanan walked the next couple of guys, one of whom was opposing pitcher Ervin Santana, before getting Andrelton Simmons to fly out to Revere in left-center to end the inning. After two Buchanan had already thrown 50 pitches.
Revere continued his pursuit of the batting title as he singled in the top of the third. Sizemore, who I'm on record as saying probably shouldn't be playing on this team over guys who are actually under team control next season, then promptly launched a home run to right field, essentially a slightly longer version of the ball he hit in the first, tying the game at three.
Nothing of note happened during the bottom of the third or top of the fourth innings, so I read this Breaking Madden column on Jon Bois' attempt at getting Jadeveon Clowney 201 sacks in a single game of Madden. I laffed a bit.
Back to the game at hand. Buchanan again ran into trouble in the bottom of the fourth, allowing a lead-off single to Bethancourt, then walked 8-hole hitter BJ Upton, he of the .286 OBP. Ervin Santana sacrificed the runners along which then allowed Bethancourt to score on a Heyward ground out to second.
Buchanan's day would come to an end as he was pinch hit for by Tony Gwynn Jr after Wil Nieves led off the fifth with a single. Buchanan was up to nearly 90 pitches through his four innings, so he wasn't long for this game even if he hadn't been pinch hit for by the inept Gywnn. Despite Gwynn's completely predictable out, the Phils scratched out another run after Revere singled to left for his third hit of the day, Sizemore walked, and Utley knocked in his second run via sac fly.
Mario Hollands relieved Buchanan, though wouldn't last long, having to leave with elbow pain midway through the inning. Enter Miguel Gonzalez with runners on the corners. As I said earlier, Gonzalez flashed some decent ability in his pitches, showing a fastball that hit 96 with some natural cut, and a nice curve. Despite the seemingly quality stuff he allowed 5 of the 8 batters he would face to reach base (2 walks, 3 singles), leaving with a final line of 1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 SO, and the Phils trailing 6-4. The seventh run would score on a De Fratus wild pitch, allowing Doumit, who he inherited from MAG, to score. Jim Salisbury described the action thusly:
Slopacious game for Phillies— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyCSN) September 3, 2014
That, basically, was the game, as De Fratus and Jimenez shut down the Barves while Carpenter and Kimbrel did likewise to the Phils.
An interesting (but ultimately irrelevant) aside: Ben Revere finished the day 3 for 5, and as of this writing (3:23 PM, EST) leads the National League in batting at .314 (Morneau is at .310, Josh Harrison .311)
#Phillies Ben Revere has a streak of 64 straight plate appearances without a strikeout; 84 straight without striking out swinging.— Ace of MLB Stats (@AceballStats) September 3, 2014
The Phils get tomorrow off before heading to Washington DC to take on the Nats on Friday.
Fangraph of slopaciousness: