Scott Kingery provided some drama for the second night in a row.
This time, instead of an insurance grand slam, Kingery found a way to score Pedro Florimon from third, arcing a fly ball deep enough to right field to plate his fellow infielder and send the Phils home on the sunny side of a sweep, as they beat the Reds, 4-3.
The Reds had drawn in and added a fifth to their infield for Kingery’s at-bat, getting Billy Hamilton an infielder’s mitt to add extra coverage to the left side of the infield ultimately rendered moot by Kingery’s fly ball. It was another feather in the cap of a rookie flying high early on in his MLB career. Oh, and did we mention he flashed a big arm on an outfield assist from left field? Because that happened, too.
J.P. Crawford socked his first Major League homer - a towering second-deck shot - to give the Phillies an early 2-0 lead after two. The Reds would tie the game after an RBI single by Public Enemy No. 1 Joey Votto and a productive out from Phillip Ervin in the fourth, but that would be all Pivetta would permit as he wound through the Reds’ lineup.
Cesar Hernandez broke the tie in the fifth with a massive homer, also to the second deck. Hernandez also walked twice in the game, and his slash now reads out a very pretty .300/.440/.500 following Wednesday’s game.
Coming into the season, even in the days B.A. (Before Arrieta), there was some hushed optimism about Nick Pivetta. Sure, saying you expected some good things out of a guy who posted an ERA north of 6 in 2017 is putting yourself out there a bit, but you also hedge your bets; if he isn’t good, what did we really lose? And you got to Be Bold in the process.
Well, maybe we don’t need to be so cynical after all!
Pivetta followed up a sparkling home opener with a solid reprisal, holding the Reds to two runs on five hits, striking out seven and walking none.
Adam Morgan pitched the eighth to maintain a slim, 3-2 lead, before yielding to Hector Neris for the ninth. Neris struggled for the second time in five outings, as the first three batters all reached via hit to tie the game at 3. Neris recovered his composure and splitter in time to retire the next three Reds hitters - two via strikeout - to give the Phils a shot at winning it in the ninth.
They would not do so. Nor would they in the 10th or 11th, though Jorge Alfaro very nearly singled home Carlos Santana in the latter, foiled by subbed-in third baseman Alex Blandino. Odubel Herrera, for his part, robbed Scooter Gennett of a go-ahead homer to center in the 10th, prolonging the game for the Phils.
Florimon started off the 12th with a routine ground ball that Reds second baseman Scooter Gennett lollygagged in playing, airmailing Votto and allowing Florimon passage to second base. Crawford bunted Florimon to third, then Cesar was intentionally walked. Kingery worked a 3-1 count before driving a fly ball not too far shy of the warning track, giving Florimon more than enough space to ramble home with the winning run.
The Phillies have an off day Thursday as they travel south to Florida for a series under the dome with the Rays. They are 6-5, above .500 for the first time this year. With any luck, they’ll never go below it again in 2018.