The first time I remember hearing the term "innings eater" was when the Phillies traded for Joe Blanton at the 2008 trade deadline. In that particular case, the term was employed as a compliment; the version of Joe Blanton the Phillies acquired was a league-average or slightly better pitcher and threw at least 190 innings in each of the three years prior to arriving in Philadelphia. Just about any team would be happy to have Joe Blanton eat innings for them as a number four or five starter.
Eating innings means something different for a good team--a team contending for the World Series, no less--than it does for a bad team. For the 2015 Phillies, Sean O'Sullivan is the innings eater they deserve and today he did his job. Despite giving up four runs in the first two innings (more on that in a bit), O'Sullivan made it through 6 innings for the Phillies. Given how overworked the Phillies bullpen has been this year, especially Justin DeFratus, simply pitching deep enough into a game for the bullpen to not be over-taxed--De Fratus and Jeanmar Gomez combined to throw 31 pitches this afternoon--provides some measure of value.
About those first two innings, though. SOS gave up four runs, but, somehow, wasn't pitching poorly. For the first two innings, the Pirates were hitting unspectacular singles and advancing on ground balls. They managed to get four runs out of that, but it wasn't as if they were tee-ing O'Sullivan up for dingers and hard-hit balls into the gap. For the first two innings, SOS was the victim of some bad BABIP luck, if you want to think of it that way.
Unfortunately for the Phillies, those four runs were too many for their offense to overcome. Although O'Sullivan settled in and didn't allow the Pirates to score in innings three through six, the Phillies weren't able to get much going off of Pirates starter and actual good pitcher Gerrit Cole. Through six innings, the Phillies were only able to get five hits off Cole, but two of them came from Ben Revere. He started the game with a single and scored after stealing second base, advancing on the throw that tried to catch him, and tagging up on a Chase Utley sacrifice fly.
The two other hits off Cole came from Maikel Franco. He led of the second inning with a single, but ended up stranded at third. In the fourth inning, though, Franco led off with a double to left. He advanced to third on a Cody Asche ground out, and then scored on a Freddy Galvis ground out. Every game I expect Franco to start swinging-and-missing and fall into a slump, but he continues to be a real bright spot on this otherwise boring team.
Outside of Revere and Franco, however, the rest of the team was not able to get anything off of Gerrit Cole and the Phillies trailed 4-2 after seven innings.
The Phillies looked like they were ready to take the lead, or at least tie the game in the eighth inning. Ben Revere led off with a double and quickly scored when Jeff Francoeur--pinch-hitting for Odubel Herrera--followed with a single. The Phillies loaded the bases with no outs after Chase Utley singled and Ryan Howard walked, but Tony Watson managed to get out of the inning without allowing another run to score. The Pirates took advantage of the force-out at home plate on consecutive ground balls from Maikel Franco and Cody Asche. Freddy Galvis followed with a ground out to end the inning.
That ended up being the last chance the Phillies had to tie or win the game as Pirates closer Mark Melancon got Ruiz, Ruf, and Revere out 1-2-3 in the top of the ninth to end the game.
With the loss, the Phillies maintain the worst record in baseball; they are two games worse than the second-worst Brewers. They have lost five games in a row and eight of their last nine. With the Orioles, Cardinals, Yankees, and Nationals as their next four opponents, there figures to be plenty of losing in the immediate future.
Comment Of The Game: "This is like bleeding to death from a hangnail."--johnny eagle
- Following the game, Darin Ruf was sent down to AAA Lehigh Valley and Domonic Brown was called up to the major league team. If you were still engaging in some manner of Domonic Brown vigil, or, a #DomWatch as it might have been better known, you are now free to stand down. Get some sleep, clear your head, and get ready to watch his 2015 debut tomorrow afternoon.