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Free Baseball, Episode 11: Braves 6, Phillies 4

It was quite a night for third basemen. Unfortunately for the Phils, the Braves Adonis Garcia got some help from his friends, while Maikel Franco had little support and a bad glove as well.

I love when managers hold team meetings. Not because it changes anything for the team, but rather, because it's always reported as if it does help the team. I'd love to see a study that looks into this empirically, but to the best of my knowledge, there's nothing - team meetings are just for the manager to vent and for the media to have something to report.

Like tonight. Before tonight's Phillies game, Pete Mackanin had a team meeting with the team's hitters. Naturally, the team had only 6 hits tonight, scoring the same number of runs (4) as last night but with 3 fewer hits.

Apparently, the only guy paying close attention was Maikel Franco.  Franco went 4 for 5, scoring one run and driving in another. The other two hits came from Cesar Hernandez and Cameron Rupp, who combined to drive in the other 3 runs (1 RBI for Hernandez, 2 for Rupp).  The rest of the team took an 0-fer.

Unfortunately, it's very possible the Braves' Adonis Garcia was listening in on the Phillies' hitter meeting.  Garcia was the engine of the Braves' offense tonight.  He homered twice, driving in three, and walked in the 10th to score the game winning run.  The battle of the hot corner was close tonight, but Garcia eeked it out over Franco.

As for the game, the Phillies actually had the lead much of the game.  Thanks to Franco's night at the plate and Vince Velasquez' surprising efficiency on the mound (only 92 pitches over 7 innings, just the third time he reached 7 innings this year), the Phils took a 4-3 lead into the 8th. Hector Neris took the mound to protect the lead and faced Chase d'Arnaud to lead off the inning. d'Arnaud hit a pop-up into foul territory that Franco dropped for an error. With renewed life, d'Arnaud reached first on a walk and scored when the next batter, Ender Inciarte, doubled to left. The run was unearned thanks to Franco's error.

The score stayed tied into the 10th, giving the Phillies their 11th extra inning game of the year. In the top of the 10th, Edubray Ramos walked Garcia to lead off the inning, followed by a single from Freddie Freeman. With men on first and third, Matt Kemp advanced Freeman with a weak one-hopper to the mound. The Phillies then intentionally walked Nick Markakis to load the bases.

With one out and the bases loaded, the Braves' strategy apparently was to hit the ball to Ryan Howard. Howard, who started his second consecutive game since Mackanin announced Tommy Joseph was going to start most games in September (was it opposite day when Mackanin said that?), had three balls hit directly to him:

  • On the first, a grounder by Tyler Flowers, Howard gambled by fielding it before it had an opportunity to go foul and threw late home, allowing Garcia to score and resulting in no out at any base.
  • With the Phils now down 5-4 but and the bases still loaded and 1 out, Jace Peterson hit another grounder to Howard. Howard took the force-out at first, allowing Freeman to score.
  • With the Braves now up 6-4 and 2 outs, Dansby Swanson lined out to Howard, inning over.
Wanting to go home for the night, the Phillies went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 10th against Mauricio Cabrera. As with last night, the story was the lack of Phillies offense after the first few innings along with the bad performance from the bullpen. In fact, the comparison between the team bullpens is telling - Braves relievers pitched 9 innings over the last 2 games allowing 0 runs; Phillies pitchers threw 6 innings, allowing 7 runs.  No wonder the Phillies have lost the first two games of the series against the worst team in the NL.

Since it looks like Hermine has gone further out to sea than expected, the teams should be back at it tomorrow afternoon, with the Phillies looking to avoid the sweep by sending Jake Thompson to the mound against Julio Teheran.