A much anticipated debut for the the simPhillies’ newest acquisition went well, but it was the rookie center fielder that ended up stealing the show.
Though it took a while.
The Nationals, expecting to start Max Scherzer, ended up having to do a bullpen game. That’s all find and dandy, but Dave Martinez decided that closer Sean Doolittle should be the one to open the game. That’s a very curious decision that would backfire in a big way.
For Eduardo Rodriguez, making his first start in a Phillies uniform, it couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start. A leadoff double to Trea Turner, followed by a steal of third by Turner, then followed by a wild pitch, gave the Nationals the early lead. Rodriguez would then walk Carter Kieboom, allow a single to Juan Soto and a double to Howie Kendrick ran the score to 2-0. Rodriguez would settle down and retire the next three hitters, hopefully negating the early nerves. From there, Rodriguez was all business. He’d allow two more runs (only one earned) the rest of the way.
The Phillies would get one back in the second on an RBI double from Adam Haseley. Haseley would strike again in the third when he drove in Scott Kingery to tie it at two. In the seventh, with his team down 3-2, Haseley would deliver yet again, cracking an RBI double that tied the game. When the Nationals got one in the bottom of the seventh, everything was set up for them to close out the game.
Except they had used their closer already. In the top of the ninth, this rash decision would come back and bite Dave Martinez. With Will Harris on the mound, he of the 3.86 ERA to start the inning, the team felt relatively safe.
Until he began allowing baserunners.
Lots of them.
Back to back walks to open in the inning brought the white hot Bryce Harper to the plate. He took a 2-0 fastball and crushed it for a three-run home run, his 26th of the season, to give the Phillies a 6-4 lead. They weren’t done. Harris proceeded to let five of the next six batters to get on base, all of which would eventually come around to score. The biggest blow was Roman Quinn’s bases loaded double that cleared them all and knocked Harris out of the game. They would add one more but the devastation was complete. When Francisco Liriano got Kieboom to fly out for the final out, the fans filed out quietly, muttering about what might have been if Doolittle were available to face Harper in the top of the ninth.
The two teams will end their series tomorrow afternoon before departing for the All-Star break.