You’re a minor leaguer, doing your part; keeping that ERA under 4.00, hoping to get noticed in the same way you were as a two-time College World Series champion when the Yankees drafted you. Well, finally, after four seasons of sleeping on buses, working on that breaking pitch, and keeping those walks down, the big club calls your clubhouse and you’re on your way to The Show. Seven appearances later, they swap you to the Brewers, and you suit up for your Milwaukee debut in hopes of finishing off a sweep of a rancid Phillies team just about as hopeless as ever. With a 2-1 lead to protect and the bases loaded, you finish your warm-ups and stare back at Nick Williams, a recent promotion himself, who looks just as eager to prove that he belongs here. You go into your wind-up, he gets set in the box, you unleash that breaking pitch, and he unloads the bases with a monster grand slamwich—the same pitch, the same count, and the same result with which you’d faced him a month ago, when you were just a pair of AAA farmhands.
Thus was the story of Brewers reliever Tyler Webb, who with one pitch changed the day and the series for the Phillies. “You gotta be ready for a mistake first pitch,” Pete Mackanin said to reporters of Nick Williams facing a young starter with the bases loaded, “and he was.”
Thanks to Williams’ sixth inning slam over the head of a scrambling Keon Broxton to pull off a 5-2 win, narratively snatching the broom out of Milwaukee’s hands and snapping it over his knee, the Phillies fended off a three-game sweep to start the second half at the hands of the first-place Brewers. Mackanin also lauded Andrew Knapp, who had a pair of hits and “looked good” behind the plate. Other thanks were deserved for Odubel Herrera, whose three-game home run streak came to an end with a pair of doubles, and whose afternoon saw him back in the lead-off spot where he says he feels most at home.
The Brewers burned through Jeremy Hellickson fast, but he allowed only two runs and struck out six in the five innings he was around. In his last frame, he ran into a bit of trouble courtesy of the dinger from Brett Phillips that gave the Brewers their fleeting 2-1 lead. For anyone who has been watching, it was not a new sight to behold.
Jeremy Hellickson has allowed 11 homers on changeups this season, most in majors. He allowed three last year.— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) July 16, 2017
But the bullpen did not allow the lead it inherited to slip away. Ricardo Pinto, filling the early relief role vacated by Edubray Ramos, combined with Pat Neshek to allow no base runners in the sixth and seventh innings. Luis Garcia permitted a two-out rally before snuffing it out, and Hector Neris could only watch as a pain-in-the-ass pop-up glanced off Ty Kelly’s glove somewhere in sun-drenched no-man’s land before getting into a spot of trouble of his own. But with two Brewers on base, Neris took care of business with a much-desired K and a pair of pop-ups to end the game.
Williams is the first Phillies rookie to hit a grand slam since Aaron Altherr in Sept. 2015. Altherr's was an inside-the-park grand slam.— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) July 16, 2017
Get well soon, Aaron.
We shall now wait until next year to see the Phillies in their powder blue away game throwbacks, which everyone loved and so naturally the Phillies will withhold them from us.