The Phillies have won four games in a row twice this year: in April, and on June 6. Today, they made it three with their fourth straight win, a 2-1 walk-off against the Braves. And it was their second walk-off win in a row! Improbable, but true.
A walk-off isn’t the work of one man alone. Freddy Galvis may have whacked the winning hit, but it was a team effort. But if you could pinpoint one guy who carried the Phillies on his back today, that guy would be Vince Velasquez. He had the outing we’ve been hoping he’d have since he came back from the DL. Hell, for the entire season. He went seven strong innings and allowed six hits and zero runs. Plus, just two walks and six strikeouts. He tied his longest outing of the year (he went seven innings on May 6, but gave up six runs), but this start gave him one more first for the year. This was Vinny’s first outing in which he gave up zero runs.
A game isn’t won by one or two men alone, but by a team. Of course, most of the Phillies had trouble getting runs to cross the plate against R.A. Dickey today, just as the Braves had trouble scoring runs against Vinny. By the end of the game, the Braves had eight hits and the Phillies had nine, but both teams combined for just three total runs. Both teams had ample chances to score, but it just never (or almost never) happened.
The Phillies first run was scored by Odubel Herrera in the fourth inning. He singled, and then took second on a wild pitch. When Maikel Franco grounded out for the second out, Odubel took third. And he scored on a passed ball. That is some heads up baseball, baby.
Luis Garcia, as dependable (and fantastic) as he’s been, gave up the tying run in the eighth. He allowed a single to Danny Santana to lead off the inning, and Santana took second on a wild pitch. He took third on a sac bunt, and scored when Cesar Hernandez made a terrible throw home. If he had just thrown straight in front of him, he would have had Santana dead to rights. But the throw was wide and Andrew Knapp couldn’t grab it. The ball went to the backstop and Santana scored. Tie game.
After Hector Neris held down the fort on the top of the ninth, the bottom of the ninth inning could be described in one long “WOOOOOOO!” The action started immediately when Knapp doubled, and the Braves decided right then to make a pitching change. It didn’t help. Akeel Morris replaced Rex Brothers (both are fantastic baseball names), and Morris began his outing by walking Ty Kelly. Then Cesar Hernandez executed a perfect bunt and beat out the throw. The bases were loaded and Freddy was up, and he laced a single to right field and the game was won. His teammates showered him with Gatorade and water and sunflower seeds. It was glorious.
Today was a great day for baseball. The Phillies got their second walk-off win in a row. Freddy Galvis and Odubel Herrera and Cesar Hernandez are hitting and Vince Velazquez pitched a hell of an outing. The Hall of Fame inducted Ivan Rodriguez, Tim Raines, and Jeff Bagwell. (I’m just going to pretend that Bud Selig being inducted just didn’t happen. If you go to the HoF, please boo his plaque when you walk by.) And Adrian Beltre, one of baseball’s greatest treasures, notched his 3000th career hit. More happened in today’s Phillies game, but there has been such a wealth of amazing baseball stuff today that I think I’ll leave it there. Enjoy this glorious summer Sunday evening.