Starting Pitchers: Bailey Falter (0-1, 3.38 ERA) vs. Nick Lodolo (1-0, 3.60 ERA)
With so many key players in casts and on crutches, there are teams the Phillies need to consistently beat to hold onto any chance of another playoff run.
This series against the Reds, for example.
Last year the Phillies had their way with the Reds. With a record of 62-100, nearly every team had their way with the Reds. The Reds only took one game out of the seven times they faced off against each other. In that one they won, Ranger pitched seven shut out innings. The bats went cold on both sides as an unlikely pitcher’s duel ensued, a duel the Phils lost in the bottom of the ninth, 1-0.
The Reds entered the 2023 season strong and walked into CBP with a record of 3-2. They hit well. Their pitching looked decent. But after two games in South Philly, their record stands at 3-4, while the Phillies inch closer to reaching .500, standing at 3-5.
Two games a streak does not make. But after a calamitous road trip through Texas and the Bronx, back-to-back proficient performances at home feel like the Phillies are finally heading in the right direction.
Bailey Falter impressed in his 2023 debut against the Rangers, going 5.1 innings and only giving up 2 runs, 7 hits, and no walks. Though a bit shaky in the first and second innings, this afternoon Falter continued to prove that he possess the skill and stamina to be a starting pitcher.
Facing a southpaw on the mound for the Reds, Alec Bohm played first (and wore Hall’s glove) while Sosa played third. Marsh sat most of the game, and wasn’t utilized until the ninth inning when he made a good case for why he should play every day regardless of who’s pitching for the other side. In his place, Pache played center field, a decision the fanbase reacted to with a bit of rancor.
Bailey Falter started the first inning on a calamitous foot. He fed a hanging breaking ball over the center of the plate that Spencer Steer sent sailing over the head of Pache and into the trees behind the center field fence.
Nick Lodolo took a less eventful route through the first by striking out the Phillies in order. He went on to throw 106 pitches and struck out twelve, his career high.
The Reds came into the second inning seeming to have Falter’s number, laying off anything that wasn’t in the strike zone. Still, they only managed a single hit off him. Harrison made a nice running catch on a ball Jose Barrero sent to the left field.
Falter had thrown 50 pitches by the time he walked back to the dugout at the end of the second. By the third inning he settled down and retired every Red he faced through the fifth.
The Phillies finally got their first hit in the bottom of the third when Stott lined a ball to left field. Stott continued his hit streak into the eighth game of the season. Pache came to the plate next and bunted the ball back to Lodolo, but Lodolo botched the toss to Will Myers at first and Pache reached base safely, putting runners on first and second with only one out. Turner struck out swinging. A passed ball allowed Stott and Pache to advance. Kyle Schwarber hit a ball to Steer at third who swiped at Pache as he slid headfirst into the bag, and was called safe on the field. The Reds challenged the call. After a lengthy review, the call on the field was overturned, and the tying run scored by Stott was ruled not to count as he did not cross the plate before Pache was tagged, ending the inning with the scoreboard still reading 1-0, Reds.
In the fourth, Castellanos was walked on three pitches and a clock violation after JT struck out looking for a second time. There he would remain stranded as Bohm and Harrison both struck out.
Pache got a stand up double on a full count, his first hit as a Phillie. He looked to the dugout and dragged his hands over the ‘Phillies’ on his chest. Lodolo walked Trea Turner. With runners on first and second, Kyle Schwarber came to the plate, and struck out.
Andrew Bellati recorded a scoreless sixth, Connor Brodgon a scoreless seventh. Brogdon was brought back out for the top of the eighth but allowed two batters to reach base with no outs and was subsequently replaced with Seranthony Dominguez, who got out of the inning with no damage done.
The Reds sent Alexis Diaz, brother of injured Mets’ Edwin Diaz, to the mound in the bottom of the eighth, where he efficiently struck the top of the Phillies’ order in only fourteen pitches.
Andrew Vasquez started the ninth by walking Newman on four pitches. Friedl then bunted, sending the ball right back to Vasquez, but Bohm wasn’t able to get back to first in time for the throw, allowing the runner to reach base. A sacrifice fly by Vosler sent Newman to third. Fraley came to the plate and hit another sacrifice fly, sending Newman home to score.
And so the game went into the bottom of the ninth, the Phillies down 2-0 after a long game in which a combination of a lack of hitting, bad base running, and poor fielding was sure to cost the Phillies yet another game on a dismal afternoon in South Philly.
We were teased with hope in the bottom of the ninth when Nick Castellanos started off the inning with a walk. A wild pitch to Bohm sent Castellanos to second. Bohm then drove a ball through the middle, sending Castellanos to third. With runners on the corners and Diaz visibly frustrated, Castellanos took a lead to far off base that he was closer to home plate than third, taunting Diaz.
Marsh, brought in for the ninth, came to the plate. The crowd, who had been in a foul mood through most of the game, came to life. Marsh gave them reason to cheer when he drove a ball down the first base line, sending Castellanos home and advancing Bohm to third.
The scoreboard read 2-1.
Diaz got the hook at that point and was replaced by Ian Gibaut.
Edmundo Sosa stepped into the box and drove the first pitch he saw from Gibaut to deep center field, allowing Bohm to tag up and score, tying the game as 2-2.
Bryson Stott, who is batting .419, and has hit in every single game but had yet to drive in a single run, stepped up to the plate and adjusted his helmet.
Marsh took off for second and successfully beat the throw from Maile, putting Marsh in scoring position.
With a full count on him, Stott reached on a low changeup and got a piece of it, sending the ball into right field. Marsh scored, winning the game. The dugout emptied to celebrate the end of a thrilling ninth inning and the team’s third win of the season.
“There’s three parts of the season that make me really nervous,” Rob Thompson said during the February 16th press conference. “The first week of spring training, the first week of spring training games, and the first week of the regular season, because they’re different levels of intensity.”
Intense is certainly one way to describe this first week of the regular season.
The Phillies wrap up the series against the Reds tomorrow afternoon at 1:05 PM. Taijuan Walker (0-1, 8.31 ERA) is scheduled to face Graham Ashcraft (1-0, 1.29 ERA). Walker’s debut as a Phillie on April 3rd was rough. The Yankees tagged him for two runs in the first inning. He settled down after that, giving up a solo homer in the third inning and pitching well enough into the fifth. Ashcraft pitched against the Pirates in his only outing so far this year, giving up a single run and four hits while striking out six over seven frames. Let’s hope upon entering CBP on Sunday he returns to last year’s form when he carried a 4.89 ERA.
Observations From Left Field:
- The Astros lost again today to bring their record to 3-6. That warms my heart on this cold and dreary day.
- Chess master and current University of Florida geography major, Joey Votto, is still rehabbing with the Louisville Bats as he works his way back from injuries to his left bicep and left rotator cuff. Sadly, this may be the last season for one of the most colorful players in recent memory. According to a recent story he posted on Instagram, he’s working on improving his Uber rating by trying to “smell neutral” and saying “goodbye and thank you” to drivers.
- Logan O’Hoppe is batting .278 with 8 RBIs. Happy to see him get playing time he would never had in Philly. Sincerely wish him all the best in L.A. or Anaheim or Vegas or wherever the Halos wind up. It’s got to be so cool for Ohtani and Trout to play with a former Phillie prospect.
- Hockey-Romance novel aficionado and noted pilates enthusiast, Bryce Harper, continues to take batting practice and knock balls into the stands. Love to see him carousing in the dugout with the rest of the team. The day he returns to the lineup cannot come fast enough.