This game, guys. This game.
Admittedly nothing much happened through the first four innings. And that’s not just because I was out at dinner and keeping track on my phone. Jeremy Hellickson vomited up four runs in the third inning and another two in the fifth, which did nothing great for his trade value and created most of the deficit the Phillies would eventually come back from.
I’m getting ahead of myself. Way ahead of myself. At that point, I was going to title this recap “Hell-acious,” but Hellickson proved to be an afterthought in this game.
And other things were afterthoughts, too. Like the two runs the Phillies gave up in the seventh. And a bizarre and laughable play that involved two errors (that let the Brewers score one of those mid-game runs) was embarrassing, but it’s not what anyone is going to remember from this game.
At the end of the season, what will fans remember from this game? They’ll remember that the Phillies came back from an 8-1 deficit to tie the game, even though they ultimately lost.
It felt like the old days, or the old days of about 8-10 years ago. A time when even the biggest leads weren’t safe from the Phillies bats, when no relief pitcher could truly trust his stuff against Phillies hitters.
The comeback started in the bottom of the seventh inning. Odubel Herrera laced a one-out double (Herrera would go 4-for-4 with two doubles, SWOON PATROL), and Cameron Rupp walked right after (how did he do that? NO IDEA.). Then Cameron Perkins hit a pinch-hit double that scored Herrera and the score was 8-2. But when did the comeback train really leave the station?
Cesar Hernandez launches a three-run home run deep to right-center field to cut the Phillies' deficit to 8-5 in the bottom of the 7th inning pic.twitter.com/gVvAE2Zf7K— TheRenderMLB (@TheRenderMLB) July 23, 2017
Yup. When Cesar Hernandez hit a three-run home run to bring the Phillies within three.
Three runs is still a mighty big deficit for the 2017 Phillies. But not tonight. In the bottom of the eighth, Nick Williams and Odubel emphatically singled before Cameron Rupp hit a game-tying home run. There isn’t a video on Twitter, but there is this great video of fans reacting after Rupp knocked it into the seats.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, the Phillies’ chance to win was greater than it had been at any point during the game (with the exception of maybe the first few minutes of it). The game was tied and Cameron Perkins was on first base. And then something really stupid happened. With Cesar Hernandez batting, Pete Mackanin put the bunt on, and Perkins misinterpreted the sign. He thought it was a hit-and-run, so when Cesar bunted (or tried to), Perkins was already off and running. The bunt was popped right up and it was an easy double play. All the momentum was gone.
Perkins missing the sign really sucks, but he’s a young player and that’s going to happen. Hernandez effing up that bunt also isn’t good, but you know who’s at fault here? PETE MACKANIN. He put the bunt on for reasons passing understanding, and after the game, he had no good explanation for it.
Non-answer from Pete Mackanin postgame when asked why he bunted Cesar Hernandez after four consecutive hits to tie the game: pic.twitter.com/xEliirQbAR— Ben Harris (@byBenHarris) July 23, 2017
According to Mack, he put the bunt on because he wants Cesar to be able to get the bunt down. Not for a strategic or game-related reason, but because Cesar should be able to do it. Last time I checked, this wasn’t spring training or a minor league rehab assignment. I’m not sure why Mack is having his players do remedial bunting in the middle of a game, but it’s stupid. And putting the bunt on there was really stupid.
Despite the fact that Hector Neris gave up the losing run in the ninth, I feel like this loss belongs to Mackanin. I don’t know if the Phillies would have gotten any more runs if Cesar hadn’t been instructed to bunt there, but by bunting and trying to give up an out — when there were no outs in the inning!! — Mack killed the rally and the Phillies actually gave up two outs at once.
The Phillies lost and that sucks, especially since they came back from a huge deficit to tie the game. And they had a few chances to score more, and they didn’t take advantage, which also sucks. But just like at the beginning of the season, and even during the dark days of May and June, we know what this team is capable of when they’re clicking on all cylinders. It’s always nice to be reminded of that.