It was the day of a Jerad Eickhoff start, and The Good Phight's email thread was thriving with enthusiasm. "#WeLikeEick," The Grey King suggested. "#MaikandEick," Phrozen followed up. And lo and behold, the two central figures wound up playing key roles in the night's victory against the visiting San Diego Padres.
If the Phillies are going to play a bunch of low-scoring games featuring skilled starting pitching, then the season may not last as long as we thought. Young Jerad Eickhoff cruised through the Padres with ease, never appearing to be in any real danger. He increased the staff's admirable strikeout total with nine on the evening. He kept the admirable walk total low with zero walks. He kept the series of deep, encouraging starts intact by throwing seven innings.
It was exactly the sort of start a young pitcher will make that will get the people behind him enough to bestow upon him a hashtag.
However, it was not only the 25-year-old's night. Given the gregarious levels of suckitude of which both the Phillies and Padres are capable, predictions of low offense would have been solid. The CSN Standout Star selection indicated this.
MAIKEL FRANCO: Is great— Justin Klugh (@justin_klugh) April 13, 2016
CEDRIC HUNTER: Has played for two teams pic.twitter.com/DC7Iji3zjO
And what do you know, it was indeed Franco who fueled the entirety of the Phillies' offense. He got started early in the first, after Odubel Herrera grounded into a double play to nullify a Cesar Hernandez lead-off single. Franco stood in and ruptured the first pitch he saw into left field for his second roundtripper of the season.
Eickhoff took control at this point, retiring large chunks of Padres consecutively and smothering what little threats they could muster, until Franco could return to the plate in the third. Herrera put up a two-out single and scrambled Herrera-like to second base on a throwing error. Franco's subsequent double in the gap brought him home and made it 2-0.
With no more runs available, it became clear that the bullpen's role would be a big one once Eickhoff exited after the seventh inning, his ERA down to 1.50. David Hernandez came out for the eighth and managed to sneak three swinging strikeouts between some worrisome advances, having allowed a lead-off single to Alexi Amarista, watched a Ryan Howard throwing error, and issued a one-out walk to load the bases. The next two K's he tossed could not have come at a better time.
Franco singled again in the bottom of the eighth, but was able to maintain the one of the Phillies' weaknesses on the evening by getting doubled up on a Ryan Howard line drive to right. Of course, Pete Mackanin has the Phillies stealing and running like their pants are on fire and running around will somehow help the situation - Peter Bourjos was cut down trying to sneak home from second on a bobbled two-out grounder. Eventually, some of these moments will pay off; like for instance, Emmanuel Burriss being (eventually) called safe on a stolen base attempt that was overturned after initially being called out. This brought everyone back onto the field so Cesar Hernandez could ground out and send everyone back off. Still, though, the running theory was that Franco had just forgotten the number of outs.
Anyways, back to the ninth - things were left up to Jeanmar Gomez, who allowed a run or something, but nobody cared. Alexei Ramirez popped out to end it all.
Games with a K/9 of 9 or more and 0 BBs:— The Good Phight (@TheGoodPhight) April 14, 2016