The day after the Phillies’ quickest game of the season, following a pre-game introduction of the 2008 World Series-champion team lineup minus only Chase Utley (who appeared on the big screen), and during a weekend of nostalgic memories and thrilling baseball that got the blood-pumping, the Phillies played one of their most sluggish games of the season on Sunday afternoon before securing their third four-game sweep of the year.
Saturday night was all about dingers, but Sunday afternoon fell on the defense and Aaron Nola. Is there anybody you a trust batted ball to go to right now more than Maikel Franco? His arm strength, timing, precision, and stopping power have all been on display this weekend, with another gem today to escape a two-out jam in the top of the sixth that kept the game even at 0-0. But Nola held up his half of the bargain, as well, scattering five hits through his first six innings with only two strikeouts, but successfully keeping the Marlins off the board.
The Phillies weren’t hitting, but did successfully grind down Marlins starter Dan Straily, a pitcher who has not traditionally flummoxed them over the years (Rhys Hoskins feasted on Straily in 2017 alone, with three home runs in his young career). Though they had Straily at 100 pitches with one out in the sixth, they had failed to push a run across and take the lead.
It wasn’t until Carlos Santana came up with runners on first and second in the bottom of the sixth that the Phillies had an at-bat with a runner in scoring position. Cementing the flow of the Phillies’ offense this afternoon, Santana drew a walk—the third of the inning—loading the bases for Asdrubal Cabrera and giving the Phillies their best offensive chance of the day with one out. He was retired on a foul pop-up.
Odubel Herrera came up next, hitting .228 since May 18. His first two swings looked very .228-since-May-18-ish. Then he fouled off a pitch that might have hit him in the face. Then he took a pitch that was in the same place as the first two he’d flailed at. Then he hit an RBI ground-ball single through the hole on the left side, scoring two runs. Odubel! Maikel Franco followed with an RBI single that was almost exactly the same as Herrera’s and knocked in Santana to make it 3-0.
Nola’s day came to an end in the top of the seventh after an errant change-up led to a Derek Dietrich two-run shot. Gabe Kapler deployed Seranthony Dominguez, who, two strikeouts later, got touched by a solo shot from sigh Justin Bour, whose unforgiving power has led to three homers in four games, despite a .198 BA at Citizens Bank Park entering the weekend. The game now tied 3-3, Dominguez got Martin Prado swinging to escape with the game still tied. Pat Neshek held down a scoreless eighth, allowing Asdrubal Cabrera to come up with a man on the following inning and break the tie with a two-run, no-doubt second-decker to make it 5-3.
Though the offense slogged and Nola wasn’t throwing missiles, enough people did their jobs (eventually), whether it be Nola keeping the Phillies in the game, Cabrera adding some punch to the middle of the order, or Neshek keeping the Marlins off the bases late in the game. Even Tommy Hunter—yes, Tommy Hunter—came on to get the save, despite allowing the tying run to come to the plate. With the win, the Phillies remained 1.5 ahead of the Braves.
With the 2008 Phillies fresh on everyone’s minds, it’s easy to get excited about competitive baseball in August. We’ve all got the rain-drenched ‘08 DVDs on our shelves, but as Charlie Manuel said in the booth, it’s time to watch the 2018 Phillies do their thing.