The Philadelphia Phillies entered tonight’s contest against the Atlanta Braves with the worst record in Major League Baseball at 36 - 64. At 100 games into the season, they’ve unloaded Pat Neshek, Howie Kendrick, and Jeremy Hellickson. Already gone are Michael Saunders and Clay Buchholz. If flags fly forever, I guess the white flag on 2017 will be up there for a while. May we always remember the international pool money the Phillies got out of it. I’m still waiting for someone to pull the trigger on Joaquin Benoit, though he has the greatest of all names of this memorable 2017 Phillies squad.
We may all be trying to take the red pill and find ourselves in a new reality where Matt Klentak just took money to sign prospects from a clueless Orioles organization that thinks it doesn’t need Latin talent and then wonders why its system is so barren. Instead of thinking of how awesome that will be in the seven years from today when it might be relevant, we’re stuck in the other red pill reality, and we cheer for an Omega MLB team.
While we all digested the trade deadline news and hoped for more, there was, regrettably, baseball to be played. And none of it involved J.P. Crawford yet.
As to that actual game, my favorite bulldog, Jerad Eickhoff, went to the hill for the Phincels. He toughed out five innings and gave up three runs. It was a rough start for Eickhoff with a two run first inning fueled by a Cesar Hernandez error which resulted in both runs being unearned. Another tough inning in the fifth took Eickhoff out of the game after he faced eight batters and gave up a run. He did bear down to get out of a mess with a strikeout on a slider up and in-ish to Sean Rodriguez to keep it from getting worse. With the way the Phins have been swinging their bats lately, perhaps three runs could be overcome. No, really.
Eickhoff was not great but he wasn’t bad. He kept grinding and grinding, like he usually does. He looked to be fighting his curve a little tonight, but he only walked one batter unintentionally (three altogether). He struck out three and gave up five hits. Ultimately, he kept the Phillies in the game, giving them a chance to win.
On the other side, the Braves have some watchable players like Nick Markakis and Brandon Phillips, both of whom contributed. We also saw Freddy Freeman sling his slingblade at third base tonight, where once again he caught some hot balls off Phillies bats. He also stole a base (on a double steal, but still).
Sean Newcomb went for the Braves, giving up just two hits, striking out four, walking three and giving up only a single run in the fourth off a single by Odubel Herrera. Newcomb looked good, but it was a short outing.
It was a battle of the bullpens from the fifth inning on. Arodys Vizcaino cracked first, allowing a triple to Hernandez and a single to Aaron Altherr, which made it 3 - 2. In the ninth, Jim Johnson gave up a homer to Herrera to tie the game at 3 - 3. A bat was flipped.
While the Braves bullpen was horking up the lead, the Phillies relievers, oddly, did well. Hoby Milner provided an inning of scoreless relief. Jesen Dygestile-Therrien made his debut with a scoreless inning. Pedro Beato (former Brave) and Luis Garcia cleaned up the ninth for the Phillies, and Hector Neris did the same in the tenth, ending the inning on a strike-em-out, throw-em-out double play. In the eleventh, Neris looked like Neris vintage 2016. Hernandez made up for his first inning gaffe with a nifty underhand shuffle toss from his mitt on a bleeder past Neris to end the inning.
In the eleventh, speedster Tommy Joseph got on with a soft single that was perhaps repayment from the cruel baseball gods who robbed him of a hit earlier on a ball he blistered. Jake Thompson came on for one of the worst sacrifice bunt fails I’ve seen for the Phillies in, well, probably at least a week or two. Herrera followed up with another hit. A Galvis flyball followed for the second out. Cameron Rupp worked a walk, bringing Ty Kelly to the plate. Ty Kelly. Yeah. And he smacked a ball into the left-center gap to win. I was stunned, and good for him. Gotta love scrawny balding dudes.
Tonight was an interesting game at a time where much of the transition of 2017 from old to new has been completed. Pieces of a team that can win games are here. The old deadwood of Buchholz, Hellickson, Kendrick, and Saunders has all been cut out, flipped for what it could be flipped for. Two of eight position starters are gone. Two of five projected starting pitchers are gone. Neshek, an unnecessary part, has been moved.
What remained were parts like Eickhoff, who looks able to fill a role as a solid starter who keeps the team in the game, even if he isn’t spectacular — a quintessential #3, in my book. Odubel Herrera drove in two runs and was on base all night with three hits and an HBP. Altherr and Hernandez played well. Despite the error in the first, Hernandez’ triple was big as was his defensive play to end the 11th. His bunt single in the fifth was a thing of beauty, too.
The irony of all of this is that one of the few parts that is definitely not part of the future, Ty Kelly, was the guy who got the walk-off hit. Ty Kelly, the man who looks like Steve Rogers before he took Red Skull Steroids.
I keep watching this team despite their record. They need free agent pieces or a compression trade and they need more players to make the transition from MiLB to the big league club, but I see fewer and fewer holes. They are impossibly frustrating to watch sometimes, but this is a team moving forward, not backward, no matter what happens on nights like tonight. But at least it was fun to watch the progress tonight.
Fangraph of Ty Kelly Phincel destiny!
How awesome was Odubel Herrera’s bat flip tonight?
This poll is closed
Super duper awesome!
Totally uncalled for and poor sportsmanship and I am an angry man who yells at clouds!