As the Pete Mackanin Era opened for the Phillies, the 64-year-old former bench coach was tgiven a simple task: Defeat the Miami marlins. The two desperately plummeting entities met in the shadows to kick off a mid-week, late September series featuring zero playoff implications, few starting ERAs under 4.00, and, as always, Aaron Harang.
The Marlins sent Tom Koehler out there to do what he does best: find an opposing team's beating heart and silence it.
Empire State of Mind or not, Cespedes is in his worst funk as a Met right now. He's hitless (0-for-16) since Tom Koehler plunked him.— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) September 19, 2015
Since his first appearance in 2012, Koehler has been oddly non-dominant of the Phillies, allowing 20 ER, 42 H, and 12 BB in nine starts against them. The last time he took them on he was squaring off against five hard innings of Chad Billingsley. And lost.
Tonight, he'd face Aaron Harang, assuming Harang still has a face. Haven't seen him in a while. A lot of people still haven't.
We're still about 45 minutes from first pitch at Marlins Park, but I could honestly sit here and count number of fans in the building.— Ryan Lawrence (@ryanlawrence21) September 22, 2015
If the Phillies were going to pull this off, they would have to rely on what has made their offense work the past few months: hoping the other team makes mistakes. The Marlins do, and they did, and soon, on a J.P. Realmuto throwing error in the first. It allowed Aaron Altherr, who was in the middle of stealing third, to scamper home for an early 1-0 slap in the face.
The slapping continued. After a lead off walk from Andres Blanco in the second, Cody Asche punched him over to with a single and Harang managed to correctly execute a sacrifice bunt, possibly introducing a generation of Philadelphians to the concept for the first time. With two runners in scoring position, it was exactly the situation in which the Phillies would flail wildly until the umpires said they had to go back into the dugout, or the stadium would catch on fire, or something. Instead, Freddy Galvis got a grounder past the infield to score both runners.
Aaron Harang, for some reason, thunder stormed through the Marlins lineup, going seven innings with a trio of K's. It wasn't until final inning of work that he let Miguel Rojas put a mistake of his into the bleachers, but by then the Phillies had five runs - Cody Asche and Darin Ruf had both slugged dingers three innings apart in the fourth and seventh.
Harang departed, giving way Dalier Hinojosa who got through the eighth cleanly - keeping that ERA at 0.96 in the process - followed by Ken Giles in the ninth, who came in and was awesome all over the place.
Perhaps eleven months and most of a September from now, we'll be talking of Pete Mackanin's masterful work with the young Phillies roster, with the help of veterans like Andres Blanco, Ryan Howard, and David Price. Perhaps Jason Heyward will win his third Gold Glove as the Phillies' right fielder, and Ken Giles will go supernova in the bullpen, and Maikel Franco will crush his way into MVP debates, and Jeff Francoeur will also be there. And we'll all think back to a day in late September when a meaningless 6-2 win over the Marlins on Happy Pete's first day at the helm set the whole god damn beautiful thing in motion.