We should have known that the month of May, this cruelest of months, would not let the Phillies have a precious win at no cost.
Yes, the Phillies beat the Pirates at PNC Park on Friday night 7-2. Yes, they won for just the 4th time in 16 games this month. Yes, they broke a four-game losing streak and a skid in which they had lost six of their last seven. Yes, the starting pitching, bullpen and offense all showed up on the same night.
These are all good things, and ordinarily, we would feel very happy about them.
But they came at the expense of a not-so-great thing, too.
Jeremy Hellickson, who gave up two runs in the 1st inning (one earned) and threw 31 pitches in that opening frame, absolutely dominated the Pirates’ lineup. He went six innings and gave up just the one earned run (3.44 ERA) with one walk and two strikeouts. He threw just 84 pitches, and he also added in an RBI double for good measure.
Just before he hit his double, I tweeted this. I thought I was being clever.
Minutes later, this happened.
Jeremy Hellickson rips a double to left field, but he pulls up running to second base. He did something to his side.— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) May 20, 2017
Jeremy Hellickson is certainly hurt. Looks like an oblique injury on a swing.— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) May 20, 2017
I’m sorry, everybody.
Hellickson was on track to be the first Phillies pitcher to last into the 7th inning since May 6, but alas it was not to be. Happily, after the game, it appeared as if the injury wasn’t terribly serious.
Hellickson, who said he has lower back tightness, believes it's not serious and he will make his next start. Will get better idea tom. tho.— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) May 20, 2017
Make no mistake, Hellickson has been incredibly valuable to the team. The Phillies are 8-1 in games he has started, and are 7-23 in games started by anyone else so far this year.
The Hellickson injury aside, it was a terrific night for the Phils in the Steel City. They fell behind early, but picked up a run in the 3rd on a Cesar Hernandez RBI single, then scored a couple of runs in the 6th with some small ball. First, Aaron Altherr hit an RBI groundout to tie the game at 2-2, then Tommy Joseph lined out to left field for a go-ahead sacrifice fly.
Hellickson added his costly RBI double an inning later to make it 4-2, with Cameron Rupp putting the icing on the cake with a 3-run blast, his 4th, to make it 7-2.
The Phillies even got some competent bullpen work on this night.
Pat Neshek pitched a scoreless 7th, Joaquin Benoit handled the 8th with no worries, and Hector Neris worked around a leadoff single to finish the job in the 9th.
Frankly, that’s what the Phillies were hoping to see all year. That was the blueprint. They want their starters to go 6-7 innings and line things up for the back end of the bullpen.
Everything about this game was textbook, but if you had trouble remembering exactly how to celebrate one of these “win” things, it’s understandable.
Oh god they won how do I do this again— The Good Phight (@TheGoodPhight) May 20, 2017