Thursday’s game between the Phillies and the Marlins had it all: Pitching, defense, a little bit of power, and of course, commentary by Jolly Olive. And if you’re young enough to know how to watch a game on YouTube, you got to see the Phillies emerge with a 3-2 win.
I’m not entirely sure what MLB is hoping to accomplish by putting games exclusively on YouTube. Maybe they think this is how the young people prefer consuming their entertainment? Maybe they figure that people endlessly tweet and chat about the game anyway, they might as well do it at the same place that they’re watching the game?
Whatever the reasoning, I’ll admit that I don’t hate having the game on YouTube during a weekday afternoon game. For those of us working a daytime job, it makes it easier to (pretend to) multitask. Plus, we got to see what YouTube user Jolly Olive thought about the happenings, which made the whole experience that much better.
Like most Phillies lineups these days, the batting order the team threw out there on Thursday wasn’t the most intimidating they’ve ever tried. Thankfully, the Phillies still had Rhys Hoskins in the lineup, because he seems to have rediscovered his power stroke.
Matt Joyce added another run via sacrifice fly, but that was it as far as scoring went until the ninth inning. So the Phillies would need to rely on their pitching and....(shudder) defense. But the defense was actually good on Thursday and was a big part of the win. (Really!)
Spencer Howard got the start, and he was able to sustain his good stuff through four innings, as opposed to just two the last time he started. But it seems that once Howard hits the 50 pitch threshold, he completely collapses. Some pitchers show signs of tiring, but Howard abruptly loses the ability to pitch a baseball with any level of competence.
As Jolly Olive pointed out, Spencer Howard ran into trouble in the fifth. 1B, BB, 1B. Leaves with bases loaded and no outs. Seemed to hit a wall after 50 pitches.— Matt Breen (@matt_breen) May 27, 2021
The first three batters in the fifth inning reached base, with the last two coming via walk. Ranger Suarez was brought in to escape the jam, and he mostly did so with - gasp! - a little help from the defense. Jesus Aguilar’s fly ball to center was deep enough to score a run, but Rhys Hoskins cut off the throw to home, and threw out the runner at third base to end the inning.
Suarez ended up going three scoreless innings, and has been a very pleasant surprise for the team thus far.
What a job today by Ranger Suarez with 3 scoreless innings of relief.— Corey Seidman (@CSeidmanNBCS) May 27, 2021
He has a 0.00 ERA and 0.67 WHIP with 11 strikeouts in 12 innings this season.
For the second straight game, the Phillies’ bullpen blew an eighth inning lead, but I’ll cut them some slack. It feels like they’re forced to preserve a narrow lead for 3+ innings every night, and that will inevitably lead to some mishaps. On the other hand, the run they gave up on Thursday was thanks in part to Jose Alvarado walking three batters in the inning, so the slack cut should be minimal.
The ninth inning started off promisingly when Odubel Herrera led off with a triple. But the Phillies had squandered a good scoring opportunity the inning prior, and came ever so close to doing the same here. With one out, Ronald Torreyes hit a comebacker to the mound that Marlins pitcher Yimi Garcia tried to turn into a double play, rather than nailing the runner at home. Torreyes barely beat the relay throw, and the Phillies were back on top.
In the ninth, Hector Neris worked around a leadoff walk by inducing a Jon Berti double play to end the game. It felt like it was a nice play by Alec Bohm, but at this point, I’m not sure if the Phillies’ defense has simply skewed my perspective as to what a good play actually is. These days, basic competence in the field feels like a highlight.
The Phillies emerged with a split in Miami, and honestly, just avoiding being swept by the Marlins feels like a major victory these days. And in case you were wondering what Jolly Olive thought about the outcome, I’m sad to say that he wasn’t able to watch it.