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Firing on (almost) all cylinders: Phillies 13, Braves 8

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The first eight innings of this game were near perfection

Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies
Aaron Nola pitched eight strong innings. Too bad the game was nine innings long.
Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images

After the disappointment of Sunday’s twin losses, the Phillies bounced back nicely on Monday night, defeating the division rival Braves by a score of...bear with me, folks, I turned the game off after the eighth in order to fire up the recapping laptop, so I didn’t see the last inning...13-8?

13-8??? They were winning by 12 runs heading into the ninth! What happened???

Checks box score

Oh, I see. They took Aaron Nola out and put in Nick Pivetta. That explains it.

Anyway, up until the ninth, this game was near perfection. Much like his previous start, Aaron Nola was in complete command, but this time, the Phillies offense decided to show up as well. Bryce Harper got things started in the first inning with a three-run blast into the bullpen.

In the second, they broke things open with a seven-run outburst that included homers from Roman Quinn, J.T. Realmuto, Jean Segura, and a grand slam from Didi Gregorius.

The carnage didn’t stop until after 13 Phillies crossed the plate. And despite his unfamiliarity with sufficient run support, Nola cruised through the game. Sitting at just 89 pitches after eight innings, there was speculation that he might throw his first ever complete game. But manager Joe Girardi has shown caution with his starters all season, and figured that even the Phillies’ bullpen couldn’t blow a 12 run lead.

In the end, Girardi was correct: Between Nick Pivetta and Trevor Kelley, the Phillies’ bullpen successfully protected the lead in the ninth inning. And now, hopefully general manager Matt Klentak will jettison them both from the roster (and Austin Davis can go right along with them), so that we never have to see them again.

It was nice to see the Phillies’ offense come alive, but it would be even nicer if they can sustain that level of production in the days ahead. Because given the state of the bullpen right now, unless the starters can start throwing complete games, they’re going to need all the runs they can get.