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The art of pitching: Phillies 4, Nationals 2

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The Phillies pitching staff stifled the Nationals today, and it was beautiful.

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Phillies and the Nationals played another close game today, and this time the Phillies came out on top, gutting out a 4-2 win.

And there’s no better place to start than with Jeremy Hellickson, oh Jeremy Hellickson. If this is what he’s going to do for most of the season, that $17 million will have been well worth it. He allowed just two runs and four hits in seven strong innings, and the Nationals could only score their runs one at a time. Hellickson allowed a single, a walk, and a single in the third inning, and that scored one run. And a Chris Heisey hit a homer in the seventh, and that was the second run.

The Phillies didn’t have a tremendous amount of luck against Nats starter Tanner Roark, either. Their offense came in two short bursts. The Phillies scored two runs off Tanner Roark in the fourth inning, and the sequence of hits went like this: bunt, bunt, double, run-scoring ground-out. And that’s all they really got going on Roark all day. He exited after seven innings as well.

The difference in this game is in the bullpens. Tied after seven innings, both teams needed two innings from their bullpens. The Nationals sent Joe Blanton out in the eighth and he promptly hit Freddy Galvis with a pitch. One batter later, Cesar Hernandez would absolutely crush a ball into the seats for a two-run homer, and the Phillies were on top.

Hector Neris and newly-minted closer Joaquin Benoit each turned in one scoreless, hitless inning, and that was the ball game. That’s exactly how it’s supposed to go.

The Phillies pitching staff handed Daniel Murphy his first hitless game all year, and that gives me great joy.

The Phillies may have looked pathetic against the Mets, but they are not giving an inch against the Nationals. Both teams have been playing some gutsy baseball. With this three-game series tied 1-1, we’ll see who’ll emerge victorious tomorrow afternoon.

Scott Franzke Quote of the Day:

During a conversation with Larry Andersen about the Phillies’ upcoming giveaways:

“I’ve gotta tell you, my wife spent the weekend in a hotel room with three kids, I’m gonna owe her a lot more than a cross-body tote from the Phillies.”