Welcome to the weekend.
Crank up the AC and use those unpaid bills as a coaster, because the Phillies are sweating in Atlanta through the end of July. Tonight, Vince Velasquez took the mound with the eyes of multiple team scouts on his (and god knows who else’s) back. Namely, its the Rangers who are following VV around, and it was Texas who dispatched one of their more prominent scouts to Turner Field to monitor the 24-year-old’s start.
Trades that will never happen aside, Velasquez plowed through the Braves in the first, worked around a lead-off double in the second, then got into trouble in the third with runners on first and third with one out. Gordon Beckham and Nick Markakis singled on either side of a Freddie Freeman strikeout, bringing in two runs. Thanks to an Odubel Herrera single/Jace Peterson error the previous inning, the score was now 2-1.
It was a sloppy evening in a lot of ways, really. At one point, Velasquez spun around to pick off a runner on second and hurled the ball into center field, recording his first error of the year. Maikel Franco saw three pitches in his first three ABs. A ground ball deflected off Cesar Hernandez at second. A ground ball deflected off Tommy Joseph at first. Plus, the humidity. "More like Humid-lanta," Larry Andersen eloquently put it. Nice.
But after all this, Velasquez entered the sixth inning with the Phillies still down 2-1, and set the Braves down 1-2-3 with a pair of K’s. It was his last inning, meaning he’d finished the night having given up seven hits, two earned runs, and two walks with five strikeouts. Which was cool and all, but remember that Tyrell Jenkins had shut the Phillies down for six innings, as they were only able to score once on him despite four hits and four walks in six frames. Coming into tonight, Jenkins had a 6.17 ERA.
Entering the ninth inning, not much had changed, except for the Phillies and Braves relievers having held each other to the same score. The Phillies were 1-50 when trailing after the eighth inning, but tonight, they only had to score one run to tie things up. So who was on deck for the comeback?!
Cripes alive, even the official team account couldn’t sound excited about the prospects of a potential win. Asche took maybe one Jim Johnson pitch before grounding out. Galvis struck out looking maybe 90 seconds later. That left things up to "pitcher’s spot," which meant... Ryan Howard. However, Howard’s name is etched forever into Turner Field history as the most aggressive visiting home run-hitter in the stadium’s existence with 22 Atlanta-ruining dingers.
Howard didn’t hit a dinger, but he did double - the first Phillies hit since Velasquez ran out an infield single in the fourth - and prolonged the game before being sensibly replaced by pinch runner Tyler Goeddel. Cesar Hernandez then drew a walk because this baseball game was destined to go on forever. Didn’t know that when you started watching, did you. I hope you said good bye to your families.
It was Odubel Herrera who ended things, then, with a deep ground ball to short that Erick Aybar was able to flip to third for the force out. It was a grim ending to what appeared to at one point be hopeful, much like the sack of chicken bones sitting on Chip Carey’s desk.
Maikel Franco 0 for 4 tonight on 4 pitches. It's the first time this season that any Phillie with at least 2 PA's saw the minimum pitches.— schmenkman (@tgpschmenk) July 30, 2016
Good night, everyone.