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Maikel Franco owns the world: Phillies 5, Reds 4 again

Maikel Franco is making watching the Phillies fun again, and for once, luck was on their side.

The 'ol shaving cream "pie" to the face.
The 'ol shaving cream "pie" to the face.
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

It really doesn't matter whether the Phillies won or lost their game against the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday night.

In the grand scheme of things, sure a win is nice, but it doesn't get the team one step closer to the playoffs. And yeah, you don't want to invest three and a half hours of your night to watch the Phils lose, but they're probably gonna lose 100 of these games this year, so what's one more, right?

No, right now, we're coming to watch the kids, and hopefully, some of these kids are going to show us something over the next few weeks and months.

On Tuesday night, third baseman Maikel Franco helped tie up the first game in this series against the Reds at 4-4 in the bottom of the 8th with a two-run blast. That was a pretty cool moment, helping the Phils come back from 4-1 down, eventually leading to a Darin Ruf walk-off RBI single and a 5-4 win.

On Wednesday, the 22-year-old slugger topped himself.

Reds starter Mike Leake took a no-hitter into the 7th. The Phils came into the 9th inning down 4-0. They had registered one hit.  It was looking bleak.

But in the 9th, they started to make things happen, and after scratching out a run, Franco came to the plate with two on and destroyed a fastball off Aroldis Chapman, one of the toughest closers in the league, tying the game a 4-4, just as he had done the night before.

Franco finished the night 2-for-5 with 3 RBIs and his fourth homer of the year. After a prolonged slump, he has broken out of it the last two nights with two huge bombs. It's nice having something to be excited about again.

The actual finish to the game was just icing on the cake. A one-out double by Cody Asche brought Freddy Galvis to the plate. Galvis grounded to first baseman Joey Votto, who flipped to the pitcher covering for what should have been the second out. But the ball bounced off the top of Ryan Mattheus and rolled away, allowing Asche to score with the winning run, and giving the Phillies their second straight 5-4, walk-off victory.

It was the first time since August of 2013 the Phils had two straight walk-off wins. The Phillies have not had much luck go their way this year. For one night at least, they got the benefit of a gift.

As for the Reds, this is about as brutal a loss as you can get. Both teams came into this series struggling mightily hitting with runners in scoring position, and that trend continued in a major way for Cincinnati, as the Reds went a staggering 1-for-20 with 14 runners left on base.

The Reds' fanbase was a bit crestfallen.

The late inning heroics got Phils starter Cole Hamels "off the hook," although he was placed on that hook by his teammates in the first place. Hamels struggled with his control but still went seven innings and gave up just two runs on six hits with three walks and eight strikeouts, lowering his ERA to a season low 2.88.

But there was a weird moment as Hamels went out to take the mound in the 8th. He threw one warm up pitch and then, oddly, Ryne Sandberg popped out of the dugout and removed him from the game. Fans, understandably, were worried.

Was there an injury? Did he get hurt? Is he being traded?

Happily, it was only just a little more Ryne Sandberg indecision.

I believe that's what you call Ryne Sandberg putting lipstick on a pig.

Anyway, Ken Giles came in and pitched a scoreless 8th, but Jake Diekman continued to do what he has done all year; give up runs. He served up a two-run bomb to a slimmed-down Joey Votto (veganism works, apparently) to make it 4-0, raising Diekman's ERA to 7.20.

That set up the late inning heroics of Maikel Franco and a bumbling Cincy defense.

The win doesn't mean a whole lot, but it sure feels a heckuva lot better than a loss.