They needed a good start from Kyle Gibson to quell the anger at the deal. They needed the offense to do something, anything, to get started.
They got both, and then some.
By shelling the Pirates this afternoon, the Phillies took a measure of revenge for a partial weekend of ineptitude. They didn’t hit for two days, didn’t pitch particularly well outside of Aaron Nola and generally needed to answer questions about whether or not they should even consider themselves in the division chase at all.
In the first inning, there was a small fear that it would be the same old Phillies after all. Travis Jankowski doubled with one out, but was followed by a Bryce Harper strikeout that brought with it a sense that another scoring chance would be lost. Fortunately, J.T. Realmuto singled to drive in Jankowski and those doubts were erased. Kyle Gibson took the hill in the bottom of the frame and retired the Pirates on eight pitches. Maybe things were going to change.
In the second, back to back singles by Alec Bohm and Didi Gregorius put runners on the corners with no one out, but some truly terrible baserunning by Bohm and Gregorius threatened to again waste another chance at scoring. Bohm broke for him on a groundball by Odubel Herrera, only to be thrown out in a rundown. When Gibson followed with a bunt attempt in the air, Gregorius froze and was easily thrown out at third when the ball dropped. Luckily for the Phillies, Jean Segura was up next.
Jean Segura's strong year continues. Drives in 2 with the 2-bagger. Phillies up 3-0. pic.twitter.com/xvyIEMCNZu— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) August 1, 2021
A 3-0 lead looked like it would be safe for Gibson, who cruised through the first two innings, but he ran into trouble in the third of his own creation. Walking the pitcher with two outs started it, then two singles gave Pittsburgh their first run. When Gibson walked the following hitter to load the bases, that doubt was back. Surely, this would be the beginning of the regression we saw so many people predicted of Gibson. Thankfully, a groundball to Segura ended the threat and the inning and the last real chance Pittsburgh would have at getting into the game.
The rest of the game was just an exposure of the lack of depth Pittsburgh now has in their bullpen. Sure it was kept at least somewhat close by Mitch Keller, the starter on the day, but once he was finished after five and his team down 4-1 thanks to back to back doubles by Bryce Harper and J.T. Relamuto in the fifth, things unraveled. A Herrera sacrifice fly and Segura double plated two for the Phillies in the sixth made it 6-1, a two-run single in the seventh made it 8-1, then the barn doors were blown off in the eighth when reliever Luis Oviedo couldn’t find the plate at all gave the Phillies five runs to make it a laugher, running the score to 13-1.
When the final was made 15-4, the Phillies getting their two runs of a position player in the ninth, the game was just what they needed: 20 hits that led to 15 runs, a sterling performance by their newest deadline acquisition that eased some anger at the team and superb games from Harper (three doubles) and Realmuto (5 for 6, two doubles, four RBI) should give the team a measure of confidence heading to Washington to take on Juan Soto and the ghost Nationals.
Gibson, in particular, was outstanding. He was brought in to bring stability to the team and did so with aplomb. He went 6 2/3 , only allowing two runs on five hits, walking two and striking out five. He got seven groundball outs, the thing he does best, and should have given the fanbase a measure of excitement that they got this one right. Time will tell if he can keep going with this kind of work, but if he can approach this each start, the Phillies will be very happy with their end of the deal.