Through eight innings last night, the only story was pitching. Nick Pivetta had a great start, giving up four hits and one run over six innings — and that one run came in the first. He was matched by a guy on the Marlins named Dillon Peters, making his MLB debut. And if I were an MLB pitcher making his debut, I’d want to face the Phillies, too. Because he absolutely dominated over seven innings, giving up three hits, no runs, and striking out eight.
Through eight innings, the Marlins led 1-0. And as the Phillies approached the ninth, it felt like a loss already. As Scott Franzke reminded us as the final inning started, the Phillies were 4-67 when trailing through eight innings. Only four times had they come from behind and won the game, and that was a depressing stat.
But then Maikel Franco came out first-pitch swinging against Brad Ziegler, the Marlins closer, and he smacked a slide-in-head-first double, and the Phillies were in business. It was the first extra base hit for either team all night. Nick Williams moved Franco along to third, and after Pedro Florimon walked, Jorge Alfaro came to the plate. Alfaro has been with the team for nearly a month, but has played in just 13 games (12 as of last night) because Pete Mackanin is obsessed with Cameron Rupp. But Alfaro keeps on giving Mackanin reasons to start him, and he did it again last night. Because with runners on first and third, Alfaro singled to tie the game.
With one swing of the bat, Alfaro took what already felt like a loss and turned it into a fighting chance. Andres Blanco was up next, and he hit a weird, soft, pop-up grounder type thing that landed between first and second. There was no chance for a double play because the ball was hit so softly, and so the only option for the Marlins was to let Florimon score and get the out at first.
The Phillies had actually come from behind in the late innings. They led 2-1 after half of the ninth, and all they had to do was hang on for three more outs. Hector Neris delivered, even with a dramatic final out.
And I would post video for that final out from MLB, but they’re idiot video hoarders who never want the fans to have fun. (Seriously, MLBAM can suck it times a million forever and ever.) So here’s a tweet of that “dramatic” final out. Neris gets JP Realmuto to hit the ball off the end of the bat, and it dribbles in front of the mound. Neris tries to grab it, bobbles it, drops it, then picks it back up and throws the Andres Blanco at first, who has to crouch to grab it, and he rolls away.
It was somehow the perfect way to end this game.
Juan Nicasio, the newest Phillie, made his debut last night, and what a debut it was. He closed out the eighth inning by throwing three pitches and getting one out. But he was the pitcher of record when the Phillies took the lead in the ninth, so the win was his. On just three pitches. Welcome to the Phillies, Juan! Let’s hope that’s the first of many similarly easy outings.