Typically, the Phillies offense coming through after Vince Velasquez only manages another three-inning start means the bullpen isn’t going to be much help, as only one component of this team is allowed to function at a time. But last night in Cincinnati, the Phillies saw two of them come through, and that key combination of “scoring runs” and “not, at the worst possible time, giving up lot and lots of runs” were able to secure their third straight victory in a tight NL wild card race.
When Hector Neris recorded the final out, Tom McCarthy touted the strong line the bullpen had put up to close out the game: 6.0 IP, 3 H 1 ER, 9 SO, saying you’d take it from a starter any day of the week. Which is true, but a solid six-inning start is not the signature move of this pitching staff, and holding a lead hasn’t always been this bullpen’s forte. This was proven by Velasquez, who once more chugged through a high pitch count very early in his start, logging his 70th full count of the season—though he was working with a weaponized knuckle curve.
He departed after three innings, four hits, two walks, and a run. The Phillies tied the game on a sac fly before he left, however, and took the lead on a Cesar Hernandez single after Jean Segura hit a ground-rule double to lead off the fourth. They took advantage of Lucas Sims’ wobbly control in the fifth with a pair of lead-off works, and Bryce Harper capitalized with an RBI single (his 100th RBI of the season) and Rhys Hoskins followed him with a sac fly to make it 4-1.
The Reds seemed to find a spot to burrow into the box score when Blake Parker entered the game in the eighth, however, and managed to slim it to a 4-2 lead entering the game’s final phase. But the Phillies offense came back with two more runs in the ninth as Scott Kingery came through with a solo shot, his eighth hit and fourth XBH of the week. Adam Haseley and Corey Dickerson swapped places at second base with a pair of doubles as well, with Haseley coming in to score and giving Hector Neris a 6-2 lead to protect in the ninth.
There would be no disgusted J.T. Realmuto head shake last night, as the Mets blew a five-run ninth-inning rally and got walked off by Kurt Suzuki and the Nationals. Tonight, the Phillies look to match their season-high for a win streak with four straight W’s as Aaron Nola takes on Trevor Bauer.