Relief pitchers, like NFL cornerbacks, must have short memories.
You have to let go of recent failures. And the nature of the job means that those failures will most often cost your team a win or two here and there.
There aren’t many seasons like Brad Lidge’s 2008, when he went 48-for-48 in save opportunities that season. Closers, like everyone, are fallible.
On Friday night, Jeanmar Gomez blew one. He gave up a two-run homer to Jedd Gyorko to tie the game and send it into extra innings. It was his fourth blown save of the season, not bad when you consider he’s converted 32 of 36 as the unexpected closer this season.
But that’s also why it was even more impressive that he shut the door so effectively in tonight’s 4-2 win over the Cardinals.
Once again, he faced Gyorko with a runner on and up by two in the ninth, but this time, Gomez got him to ground into a nifty 4-6-3 double play to seal the victory. Gomez now has 33 saves on the season with a 2.97 ERA, all while striking out just 5.77 batters per nine innings.
You know, there was a time, from the 1800s-2014, when not all relief pitchers threw 97-99 mph and struck out 14 batters per nine.
It was a good pitching night all around for the Phillies, as they got something from Jeremy Hellickson that hadn’t been seen from one of their starters for quite some time.
Jeremy Hellickson has pitched 7 innings. It's the first time a Phillies starter has pitched 7 or more since July 26 (Eickhoff).— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) August 21, 2016
Hellickson was solid, giving up just two runs on seven hits with one walk and eight strikeouts, lowering his ERA to 3.60 on the season. That was followed up by a dominant eighth inning by Hector Neris, who struck out the side around a hit.
Neris lowered his ERA to 2.24 and appeared in his league-leading 63rd game this season. He’s been extremely effective, with a 82:18 K/BB ratio, averaging 11.47 K/9. One would assume they’ll start to take it easy on the kid in the last month of the season.
Offensively, the Phils were paced by two of their infielders. Cesar Hernandez went 3-for-4 with a homer, a single and a double, finishing just a triple short of the cycle. And a triple isn’t an outlandish ask of Hernandez, he leads all of baseball with 9. Hernandez has his batting average back near .300 (.298) and that on-base percentage near .360 (.358).
Maikel Franco went 2-for-4 with a go-ahead RBI single and Aaron Altherr added an insurance homer to pace the Phils’ offense. Altherr hit that homer off Jonathan Broxton, who, as you might recall, has not had a positive history with the Phillies.
Broxton must get hives whenever he has to come to Philly.
And perhaps the Phillies offense is starting to find their groove at Citizens Bank Park. After wallowing for most of the season as the team with the worst offense at home, the Phils have started to use some of the cozier dimensions at CBP to their advantage.
The Phils will look for the series win when the two teams meet on Sunday afternoon at 1:35.