The Phillies had their ace on the mound last and still somehow lost. Sure, Zack Wheeler pitched a below average game, but he was not given even a modicum of offensive help, needing to be better than perfect to win that game. It felt somewhat ominous since the Phillies really haven’t hit much at all this week, meaning Friday’s performance felt like a sign of things to come.
Saturday, they sent Matt Moore to the mound, not really expecting much more than for him to keep the team in the game long enough for the bullpen to shut the Reds down and for the offense to somehow solve Luis Castillo just enough to scratch out a few runs. What they got from Moore today was much, much more than they could have expected. They also got the offense they so badly have needed recently and took the game to retain a share of first place.
Moore started off the game by striking out two of the first three hitters he saw. Of course, Castillo was just as good in the first inning, meaning this was shaping up to be a pitcher’s duel. In the second, Joey Votto walked, but was snuffed out on a spectacular play by Didi Gregorius that almost was a sensational double play, but was overruled on review. No matter. Moore simply rolled a double play groundball on the next batter and the Phillies were out of the inning. In the third, the Phillies got on the board when Ronald Torreyes turned on a Castillo pitch and sent it just inside the leftfield foul pole for a 1-0 lead.
Known power hitter Ronald Torreyes just CRUSHED your team’s hopes and dreams pic.twitter.com/LTrQrd9TXw— Phils Nation (@PHLPhilNation) August 14, 2021
It would stay that way for the next three innings as Moore simply steamrolled though the Reds lineup, only allowing a Nick Castellanos walk in the fourth. Having thrown six no-hit innings, manager Joe Girardi seemed poised to take him out after the sixth, but when Odubel Herrera dribbled an infield single, Girardi sent Moore up to sacrifice Herrera to second. Jean Segura drove a ball into right center to send Herrera to third, then J.T. Realmuto doubled Herrera home to give the team an insurance run.
JT Realmuto knocks in a run with a RBI double and the Phillies lead 2-0 pic.twitter.com/jFszyDIx5y— Mismatch Philadelphia (@MismatchPhilly) August 14, 2021
Moore’s bunt in the sixth turned out to be a headfake as Hector Neris took over and he was sensational himself. In the bottom half of the seventh, Brad Miller drew a one out walk, then moved up on a Torreyes bunt single. After Herrera popped out, Travis Jankowski pinch hit and drove a single into left. Miller headed for him and just barely avoided the tag to give the Phillies yet more breathing room.
How about this slide by Brad Miller? He avoids the tag and the Phillies lead 3-0 on Travis Jankowski's RBI single. pic.twitter.com/SEwRX0jo2j— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) August 14, 2021
While all of this was happening, the Phillies still hadn’t given up a hit to the Reds offense and Archie Bradley was the next pitcher to try and preserve that. He failed, giving up a home run to Tyler Stephenson, but the lead was still intact, the most importatnt thing. When the bottom of the eighth rolled around, Realmuto led off with a walk, letting Bryce Harper do this.
Everything is going right for @bryceharper3. pic.twitter.com/qL4Wy40yUK— MLB (@MLB) August 14, 2021
And what would be a better follow-up to a Little League home run? How about a Major League home run!
Andrew McCutchen GOOD BYE!!#Phillies #RingtheBell pic.twitter.com/OivfCmwMx1— Brodes Media (@BrodesMedia) August 14, 2021
Ian Kennedy would shut down the ninth and the win was preserved for the Phillies.
The offense coming alive was big for this team, but the biggest part of the win was Matt Moore. For him to go 6 innings on only 79 pitches, not giving up a hit and looking quite dominant while doing so, he gave the team a much needed win from the rotation. We’re under no illusions he’ll continue this kind of pitching the rest of the year, but one can hope he’ll at least be effective enough to keep the team in games consistently. Each time he is able to do this will be huge for the Phillies.
The two teams meet Sunday for the rubber match at 1:05.