When it’s Bark at the Park Night at Citizens Bank Park, you can always expect a fair amount (read: a lot) of good doggy footage on your teevee. But there’s a game to play too, you know. And though things didn’t get started on the right foot for the Phillies in the slightest, they did make things interesting in the late innings. Alas, first place will have to wait another day, as we continue to raise our expectations of this team by the hour.
Eflin Not His Sharpest
Zach Eflin pulled a 2016 Nick Pivetta on this beautiful Friday evening, with this line: 4.2 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 7 K. Yes, there were some highlights in there, but Eflin gave up a three-run first inning, including a pair of RBI doubles to Yangervis Solarte and Kevin Pillar. The night was just nice enough for everyone to linger in the lot tailgaiting for a bit perhaps, because the crowd was tepid in the first inning. While Eflin didn’t have a sharp night on the mound, he did help his cause at the dish.
With the Phillies down 3-0 in the third, Eflin launched a long homerun into the Phillies’ bullpen to center, to get the offense jumpstarted. It was the least he could do, as Justin Smoak hit an opposite field two-run bomb in the 5th to put Toronto up 5-1, with the Jays tacking on another in the inning to make it a five-run deficit. It was not a good night for Eflin on the hill.
Look, I’m angling more towards a life of crazy cat dad than ever having man’s best friend by my side, but I can’t deny dog highlights. There were lots of them. T-Mac and Krukker seemed to have a blast talking about it. Even Jay Wright was there, just being a regular guy with his regular dog in a regular seat nowhere near a suite or the Diamond Club. Respect.
The Comeback That Wasn’t
Hey, we’ve all raised our expectations collectively over the last week or so, because after the Eagles and Sixers did what they did, that’s just what we need to do in this town right now. But these days, even a 6-1 deficit doesn’t feel like a ridiculous mountain to climb, as it has the last few seasons. The Phils are looking more like that team that used to make Jonathan Broxton question why he did what he did for a living years ago.
Sam Gaviglio did mostly stifle the lineup, but Carlos Santana continued his hot hitting with a two-run blast off the right-hander in the 6th. Gaviglio did finish the night with a quality start, but the Phillies made the Toronto bullpen sweat out the win. Rhys Hoskins did put together a great AB in the bottom of the 8th, lacing an RBI double down the left field line to cut the Blue Jays’ lead to two.
We’d have to wait until the 9th for the real fireworks. With two men in scoring position, a wild pitch to Aaron Altherr brought Jorge Alfaro in to score. Back-to-back walks set the Phillies up with the bases loaded, one out, and one run needed to tie it up. But Hoskins went down looking on a questionable strike three call from Joe West for out number two, leaving things up to Odubel Herrera.
(A side note: Despite not being the biggest Joe West fan in the world, and really, who is, I even said out loud that he was being consistent with balls and strikes all night. And then that happened. It wasn’t a strike. It was too close to take. But, it wasn’t a strike, at least not all night. Sigh.)
One last chance for the Phillies with their hottest hitter at the plate? I like those odds. Unfortunately, Ryan Tepera got Odubel to ground out to second on the first pitch to end the game. A comeback, thwarted. A Jays bullpen, at least second guessing themselves for the rest of the series. The dogs? They’re all very good, yes they are, oh yes they are. Now who’s a good dog? Get ‘em next time.