It’s generally not a good thing when a team’s leadoff and three-hole hitters are both slumping. Given the struggles of Andrew McCutchen and Bryce Harper over the past month, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the Phillies’ lineup hasn’t produced up to its capabilities. Therefore, it was very nice to see both men drive in two runs on Friday night, leading the Phillies to a 5-4 win over the Rockies.
Cutch and Harper weren’t the only heroes on Friday night. Cole Irvin made his second career start and earned his second career win. It wasn’t as strong a performance as his previous outing, although he certainly wasn’t helped out by his defense in the second inning (he can’t really point any fingers since both errors in the inning were charged to him). On the other hand, he helped his cause by working a ten-pitch walk immediately preceding McCutchen’s home run.
Step 1: Pitcher Cole Irvin works a 2-out, 10-pitch walk in his first MLB plate appearance.— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) May 18, 2019
Step 2: Andrew McCutchen blasts a 2-R HR to left.
That's how you tie a game, folks. pic.twitter.com/RQYSnyDdFQ
The bullpen had an extremely poor showing on Thursday afternoon (Seven runs in four innings), but they were up to the task on Friday night. Irvin left the game with a one-run lead after six innings, and the trio of Jose Alvarez, Pat Neshek, and Hector Neris didn’t allow a base runner over the final three frames.
Neris was especially efficient in the ninth, needing only seven pitches to retire the side. Of course, it helps when Maikel Franco makes a highlight reel over-the-shoulder catch behind him.
Coming off a three-game losing streak, this was a very welcome victory. And if McCutchen, Harper, and the bullpen can continue to perform like they did on Friday, perhaps the team can now begin a winning streak.