It was looking dire for the Phillies for quite a while. Vince Velasquez was continuing his solid season, but the offense just couldn’t get anything done. And then the 8th inning happened.
It was a spectacular pitching duel between Velasquez and Yency Almonte. Both pitchers would scatter a few hits here and there for six inning, giving up a few walks here and there. They even managed to sit down and make it through a 37 minute rain delay in the fourth inning, both coming back out to continue what they had started. Almonte managed to make it through seven total innings unscathed before Daniel Murphy broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the fram with a solo home run to right, making it 1-0.
Now, the Rockies came into the game with the worst pitching staff in the National League. Their collective starter’s ERA is above 5, their collective bullpen ERA above 6. This is not a good pitching staff, something that was foreseen coming into the season when not many people picked them to do much above finishing fourth in NL West. So getting a performance like they did from Almonte was something sweet, something to be treasured.
Then the bullpen happened.
Almonte started the eighth inning, getting Adam Haseley striking out swinging. He then walked pinch hitter Neil Walker, something that should have triggered bullpen activity from manager Bud Black. Surprisingly, it did not. Jean Segura singled, putting men on first and second and STILL - no bullpen movement. With the next two batters being left-handed, this would prove to be an egregious error. Didi Gregorius tried to sacrifice bunt the men over, but instead beat out the throw and loaded the bases. FINALLY, the Rockies decided to get men up, but by now it was too late and Almonte had to face Bryce Harper with the bases loaded and one out. Harper proceeded to hit a bases clearing double, making the score 3-1. J.T. Realmuto popped up before Almonte was mercifully lifted from the game, replaced by Scott Oberg. Too bad for Colorado they couldn’t get a pinch manager.
Oberg apparently decided that instead of throwing pitches, he would throw gasoline on the burgeoning fire, as he then walked Rhys Hoskins, gave up a single to Andrew McCutchen that scored Harper and pushed Hoskins to third. Scott Kingery singled to score Hoskins, who was then followed by a Haseley double that scored both runners and ended the scoring, putting the score at 7-1. Oberg was relieved without having retired a batter by Wes Parsons, who induced an inning ending groundout.
Not the greatest of showings by the Rockies.
In the ninth, the Phillies tacked on another run thanks to a Realmuto sacrifice fly and the damage was complete.
If we can talk about Velasquez for a moment - he was sensational. Coming into spring training, the battle for the fifth starter’s spot was between him and Nick Pivetta. With Pivetta thriving much more in a bullpen role, it certainly looks like Joe Girardi made the most out of his first big decision as manager of the Phillies.
The seven game losing streak over, the Phillies will look to continue winning tomorrow when Aaron Nola takes the mound against Kyle Freeland.