Jared Eickhoff went to the mound tonight for the Phillies with the Dodgers sending out Ross Stripling, whose surname sounds like an insult from Game of Thrones. Ryan Howard was on the field tonight in what might be the last time he ever occupies a field during a game with Chase Utley. Think about that.
The game did not start out well for the Phillies. It started something like the demolition derby that I went to see last night in Fulton County.
Demolition derbies, like baseball games, start with someone singing the National Anthem. There are announcements telling the crowd who the participants are (players/drivers). Everyone is directed into place on a dirt playing field in the middle of stands containing observers of the spectacle. Food is served, too. Both kinds! Fried and deep fried!
There are some differences. Demolition derbies do not have scores like baseball does. Major League Baseball does not have female participants, like demolition derbies do -- the best driver in two of the three small car preliminaries last night was Cheyenne Burger. She was the hammer last night, and everyone else was the nail. In other words, she was Chase Utley.
Look, I love Chase like all of you do, but the first two games of this series were embarrassing. And out of the chute tonight, I felt like all of Cheyenne Burger's opponents must have last night. When the starting countdown ended and it was "game on" the Dodgers' lineup came hurtling at Eickhoff. Their alcohol carburetors were open full-bore with flames shooting out of their chromed-up exhaust stacks. Before Ross Stripling had to throw a pitch, the Phillies were on their backs from a Chase Utley single, a Corey Seager single, and a Pop Tart Earl Weaver staking the Dodgers to a 3 - 0 lead. Not a single out, and the win expectancy is 22.4%. That kind of thing makes you want to tune in to the preseason football game that we shall not speak of. FFFFFUUUUUUUU.........
So the Phillies survived initial contact, but they were hit hard on the vulnerable front end and were leaking coolant.
Eickhoff settled down and began to pitch more effectively, starting with getting out of the first inning with no more damage and then getting through two more scoreless in the second and third.
The Phillies managed to spin around through the mud, spraying it all over fans in the first few row so they could get an angle on the Dodgers to start laying some shots on them.
An Aaron Altherr RBI single in the third to drive in Cameron Rupp helped the Phillies to close the gap to 3 - 1, but Taylor Featherston fouled out to first with runners on second and third to squander a chance to pull closer. Eickhoff grounded out to third to end the inning.
The Dodgers weren't done dealing out damage though. Eickoff gave up a solo shot to Yasmani Grandal in the fourth, and the Phillies nearly stalled out. They got their rig restarted and came back at the Dodgers in the fourth.
In the Phillies' half of the fourth, Ryan Howard started things off with a solo shot to center to close the gap to 4 - 2. With two outs, Altherr singled and Featherston made up for a bad at-bat in his prior chance by doubling to the wall to bring Altherr all the way around. Eickhoff whiffed to end the inning, but it was closer: Dodgers 4, Phillies 3.
The Phillies had a shot to do some damage in the fifth with the bases loaded, but Stripling moved the Dodger's car out of the way just as Jimmy Paredes ran the Phillies' car into the wall where the Dodgers had been. Stripling got him to whiff on a ball out of the zone, escaping all harm during a two out rally by the Phillies. Steam started pouring out of the Phillies' front end.
Into the sixth went Jerad Eickhoff. Whether his issue is "third time through the lineup" or "a certain number of pitches" the sixth inning has been abysmal for Eickhoff this year. With a relatively low pitch count tonight, I was at least reasonably not unoptimistic. Until Adrian Gonzalez drilled a double to lead off. Eickhoff got Grandal to fly out. He struck out Joc Peterson, and intentionally walked Howie Kendrick. The Dodgers pulled Stripling for a pinch hitter, and Eickhoff struck out pinch hitter Rob Segedin on a check swing on pitch 99. See? The sixth inning is easy!
And with that, the Phillies went into the pits between heats and patched up their battered ride. I gave thought to whether I sent in my antlerless license application timely to the county treasurer in my favorite WMU. And damn, I think that girl in the Carhartt raincoat was checking out my son. THAT'S NOT ALLOWED. Or maybe that was what I was thinking last night.
Eickhoff was removed for a pinch hitter (Tyler Goeddel) ending his night with 6 innings pitched, 4 runs, 2 homers, 7 hits, 2 walks, and 8 strikeouts. ERA didn't like the outing (6.00), FIP liked it a little more (5.81), and xFIP thought it wasn't bad (3.98). It was the kind of outing I'd rather not see, but there was good in it. He walked only 2 and 1 was intentional. He fought through a terrible start and kept the Phillies in shouting distance so they could claw their way back into the game. I'll take it, especially after the bludgeoning the Phillies took the first two games of this series.
In a demolition derby, the only way to win is to be the last car running. There are millions of ways to lose. Last night, in the full-size event, one entry was a big, classic station wagon - an excellent car for the event. Hardly touched, it was disabled and motionless, and the driver had to break it off because of a busted axle. Steel in axles is incredibly strong and tough. Someone backing into your back end and shearing it off? It's bad luck for you and great luck for the driver who hits you.
In the seventh, Freddy Galvis owned Grant Dayton again, singling to get on base. Then Maikel Franco hammered Dayton's back end and busted his axle. His 2 run homer brought the Phillies all the way back and put them ahead, 5 - 4. After effective relief from Michael Mariot and Hector Neris, it was off to the 9th inning and Jeanmar Gomez to try to close out yet another one run game. With uneventful, calm Jeanmar Gomeziness and with Chase Utley watching from the on deck circle, the game ended. Phillies win!
With this series behind the Phillies, they can look forward to a weekend with the Cardinals coming to town.
Fangraph of rollercoastery.