Good pitching the past few games, getting out to early leads and then having your bullpen protect the lead.
These are the ways the Phillies have won during this five game winning streak. Zack Wheeler and Zach Eflin went back to back in giving the team outstanding pitching, so Vince Velasquez would need to match their starts to keep the streak alive. The offense put up a six spot in the first inning last night, so the team would have to score runs in the first inning tonight to keep the streak alive. The pitching, bullpen included, shut down the Braves’ offense last night, recording eleven straight out, keeping the streak alive.
All of that would come into play tonight as the Phillies looked to keep the momentum going. It started early yet again. Jean Segura, moved up to second in the lineup with Rhys Hoskins getting the night off, got the party started by ripping a line drive into the corner that cleared the wall and due to the sunlight still shining on that corner, fooling everyone involved in the process.
No one knew. TV, radio, no one pic.twitter.com/lHOcf7y6cj— The Good Phight (@TheGoodPhight) May 8, 2021
It counted just the same though and once again, the Phillies jumped out to an early lead. But they weren’t done! Bryce Harper followed with a walk, J.T. Realmuto doubled, then Alec Bohm put the ball in play to score Harper and make it 2-0. In the second, Brad Miller singled, Odubel Herrera walked and once again, the Phillies were in business. Andrew McCutchen would come up with one out and extend the lead with a single to center that scored Miller and made the score 3-0.
Andrew McCutchen gives the Phillies a 3-0 lead in the 2nd pic.twitter.com/imLSqxmOx0— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) May 8, 2021
And folks, that’s all Velasquez would need.
He was very good tonight, though not exactly economical. Of course, you could follow with a smarmy comment like “when is he ever?”, but that’s neither here nor there right now. He gave the Phillies a strong start tonight, going 5 1⁄3 innings, allowing only a home run to Freddie Freeman as the lone run Atlanta scored during his outing. Velasquez gave up only two hits (including the home run), three walks and striking out six. As previously stated, it would be preferred if he were able to go a few more batters, but getting him out before he started to lose anything was the smart move.
For Atlanta, they just could not get anything going. Freeman’s home run was a welcome sight for them, especially with how badly he has been struggling, but on the opposite end of the pendulum swing, they might be without Ronald Acuna for a while. Sam Coonrod, who came on for Velasquez, drilled Acuna in the hand with a 98 mile an hour fastball that looked really, really bad.
Ronald Acuña Jr. immediately goes to the clubhouse after taking a pitch to the hand/wrist. pic.twitter.com/gwPjDnBDis— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) May 9, 2021
Never want to see that, but luckily initial x-rays would not show a break in his pinky.
The Phillies’ bullpen, much beleaguered recently, showed up yet again tonight for a little while. Coonrod and Jose Alvarado combined to limit any damage by Atlanta, giving Hector Neris a lead in the ninth. Neris got the first two hitters out relatively quickly and easily before walking Ehire Adrianza with two outs. That brought up Pablo Sandoval, who has been outstanding as a pinch hitter this year, to face Neris with two outs as the tying run. After getting ahead of Sandoval, Neris threw a fastball right down the middle and the Panda did not miss it.
PABLO SANDOVAL DID IT AGAIN pic.twitter.com/AcMLAuExJO— Bally Sports South (@BallySportsSO) May 9, 2021
That sent the game into extra innings with the runner on second rule in effect. The Phillies started off with Scott Kingery on second, then got another baserunner when McCutchen walked against Will Smith to open in the frame, but with no Jean Segura to follow thanks to another double switch by Girardi, Rhys Hoskins struck out off the bench, Harper and Realmuto both popped up and the threat was neutralized. The Braves threatened big time in their half of the inning when Ozzie Albies moved Marcell Ozuna to third on a groundball out at first. Girardi decided to manage the inning by walking the next two hitters and deploying a five-man infield with Harper at first and Bohm at third. Brandon Kintzler, the new pitcher, would wiggle out of the jam with masterful pitching, getting William Contreras to ground out into a force play at home, then getting Cristian Pache to strike out to end the inning with the score still tied.
In the eleventh, Realmuto began as the runner on second and looked like he’d be stranded there when the first two batters went down rather quickly by A.J. Minter, but Nick Maton - NICK MATON! - drove the ball into the right centerfield gap, bringing Realmuto and giving the Phillies the lead.
NIck Maton's double makes it 4-3 Phillies in the 11th! pic.twitter.com/WO1ZoCDKNP— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) May 9, 2021
Connor Brogdon would be the pitcher of choice for Joe Girardi in the bottom of the eleventh inning, hoping to close it down for the Phillies and give them their sixth straight win. How did that go?
Well how does an error* by Gregorius suit you, one that would score Pache and tie the game at four?
*it was an error, don’t believe those official scorers in Atlanta
Who needs sleep anyway?
The twelfth would begin with Kingery on second (again) and McCutchen leading off. He would hit a tracer that caromed off Austin Riley at third base, putting men on first and second. Andrew Knapp pinch hit and laid down a perfect bunt that Contreras couldn’t field properly, loading the bases. Bryce Harper would follow with a groundball back to the pitcher Jacob Webb, but he airmailed the ball home, allowing Kingery to score, then compounded the mistake by not covering the plate and letting McCutchen to score as well.
Realmuto would single home Knapp and when the dust settled, the Phillies had a 7-4 lead. Enyel de los Santos would pitch the twelfth with Albies on second base and a nice cushion to work with. He’d walk Riley to start the inning, give up a single to Dansby Swanson and have the bases loaded with no one out. The rest of it?
Braves-Phillies is INSANE right now pic.twitter.com/CypYJWhrir— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) May 9, 2021
Baseball is stupid. Let’s do it again tomorrow.