When Adam Eaton fungoed a game opening home run into the first row over the right field wall, I surmised the game was already over. Sure, the Phillies offense hadn't recorded out one yet. Sure, Jerad Eickhoff has been reliable and looked solid in the first inning, albeit rather unlucky. Sure, the White Sox are a mediocre team and runs happen in mysterious ways. But runs only happen if runners are on base. And the Phillies were facing the likely AL Cy Young, Chris Sale. A perfect game would not have been out of order.
Instead, Sale swapped bodies with Jeff Juden circa 1994. In the first, he licensed his trademark command for a song. After failing to close the deal in a long tete-a-tete with Cesar Hernandez, he comped Maikel Franco first-base by plunking him on the foot. Then, the merchandise really started flying off the shelf. Tommy Joseph stepped into the box and took a low but flat offer from Sale on a line over a hobbling Melky Cabrera's outstretched glove, scoring Hernandez. Cameron Rupp followed by playing hardball with a straight fastball, as he knocked it down the line into the leftfield corner. That bought the Phils two more runs, and, would ya look at that, the Phillies were winning 3-1 against the Vendor Who Hates Suspenders, aka the Tall Tailor, aka Chris Sale.
In another surprise, Eickhoff was the pitcher who settled in after some early failure and delivered yet another solid outing. He threw 7 innings, striking out 6 to just 1 walk and 6 hits. Just as in his previous start he was a bit homer prone. On top of the leadoff homer, he gave up back-to-back dingers to open the 7th. But this time he made it through the 7th inning and kept his quality start intact. As Billy Graham once said, I like Eick.
On the other hand, Sale could not restock his shelves nor deliver the product his brand promises. He labored through 4 innings in which he gave up 6 runs and hit 3 batters. Tommy Joseph appeared particularly keen on Sale's wares. Twice he got the sweet spot out in front of low sliders pegged for his back foot. The first went for the double, the second went out of the park and was even more impressive than the first. Cesar Hernadez also looked comfortable against Sale, garnering a single and a triple with two runs scored and an RBI.
Thanks to Eickhoff's reliable pitching and Sale's closing shop early, the Phillies cruised into the late innings. They even extended their lead against the Sox pen. And the bullpen, only needing to get 6 outs, played its role admirably, as we saw yet another good outing from young Joely Rodriguez. David Hernandez finished the game and carried the Phillies to a short-series sweep. Now, off to spoil the Mets season.
Of note: Tyler Goeddel took a pitch from Chris Beck off his helmet just above the ear-flap. He, of course, left the game immediately but did so under his own power. Let's hope he's not in any way hurt and he gets back in the box soon. Beanballs to the head are always scary.
Also of note: Maikel Franco looked competent at the plate with two more hits tonight. He's had a forgettable 2016 season as shown here:
Maikel Franco 2016— Circus Maior (@PompeyMalus) September 21, 2016
4/3 - 6/18: 77 wRC+
6/19 - 7/10: 200 wRC+
7/11 - now: 56 wRC+
3 weeks of transcendence and the rest...well...ugh
I'm sure he just wants to get to the offseason so he can watch video and adjust his mechanics as needed. But it would be good if he could find some success to finish the season on an optimistic note.