When last we saw Taijuan Walker, he gave up four runs over forty pitches in the first inning - an inning he wasn’t even able to complete before the hook yanked him off the stage. The rest of the gang fared no better that day or in any game in San Francisco, falling into an infuriating pattern of leaving runners stranded while committing costly errors and giving up hit after hit that added up to run after run. Walker came into today’s game with only three days rest since that short but infamous showing. Today, he started the game with a clean first inning and continued to shine through 5.1 scoreless innings, giving up only two hits, walking three and striking out three.
Gotta love a good redemption story. Let’s hope this is the Walker who shows up for every start from now on.
Yesterday, Trea Turner was granted a reprieve from the lineup after an exasperating start to his tenure in pinstripes. He hit more home runs and had more RBIs over the seven games of the World Baseball Classic than in the first quarter of the regular season. When he steps into the batter’s box, he looks as tense and frustrated as the fanbase watching him, which became very real for him when Friday night’s sellout crowd vocalized their disappointment with his performance in the way that Philly holds every player accountable - a rousing cacophony of boos. It was reported that he spent yesterday afternoon working with Kevin Long, and today he returned to the lineup to bat lead off. He whiffed in the first and third inning. But in the bottom of the seventh he hit a line drive into the gap for a double, and this time the crowd cheered the new shortstop.
Facing leftie Justin Steele, who has pitched well for the Cubs this season other than his last outing against Houston, Rob Thomson again chose to sit Marsh and Stott. While Topper knows baseball and this team better than any writer or commentator, one has to question if their contributions would have driven in more runs today had they both started the game regardless of the left hander on the mound. Still, a win is a win.
In the second inning, the Phillies reached base when Steele beaned Kyle Schwarber with a 94 MPH sinker. With two strikes on him, Bohm smacked a slider into shallow right field. Edmundo Sosa moved Schwarber and Bohm to second and third on a groundout to shortstop, but in keeping with the Phillies’ recent schtick, the inning ended without anyone scoring when Josh Harrison grounded out.
Daulton Guthrie got a piece of a first pitch sinker for a two-out double - his first hit of the season - in the bottom of the fifth. Trea Turner grounded out to - by now you know how the song goes, so feel free to sing along - strand the runner in scoring position.
After walking Nico Hoerner in the fifth, Walker was replaced by Seranthony Dominguez. A pick off attempt got past Bohm which allowed Hoerner to reach second. Seranthony then walked Dansby Swanson. He induced a pop up from Ian Happ and struck out Seiya Suzuki to end the inning. Seranthony has yet to give up an earned run since April 14th.
In the bottom of the sixth, with Steele still on the mound for the Cubs, Nick Castellanos nailed a slider into the left field corner, allowing him to reach second standing up. He was thrown out at third on a laser shot from Suzuki in right field after a high pop up from Harper.
In the seventh, Sosa knocked a sweeper from Adbert Alzolay into the left field corner and pulled into to second base standing up. Daycare alum Bryson Stott, brought in to pinch hit for Harrison, came to the plate, looked at a strike, swung and missed on a fastball, then hammered a four-seamer into the right field stands to break the nuthin’-nuthin’ tie and put the Phillies up by two. Kyle Schwarber spoke for us all with his reaction from the dugout.
Bryson Stott breaks the scoreless tie in the 7th! pic.twitter.com/7HNjbv0WGf— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) May 21, 2023
It was the first pinch-hit home run of Stott’s career.
Craig Kimbrel took the ball in the ninth to close the game and struck out two before giving up a home run to Christopher Morel, who may or may not think he’s a cat. Trey Mancini came to the plate with two outs and worked a walk on eight pitches. Patrick Wisdom then stepped into the box representing the potential winning run. But the baseball gods smiled on Philly today and ended the tension with a pop up behind the plate that J.T. Realmuto, with mask thrown off, was able to track and catch to end the game. It marks Kimbrel’s 399th career save.
After getting swept by the Cubs twice last year, it’s nice to take a series from them, especially in front of a sellout crowd on a warm and sunny afternoon in South Philly. The pitching staff put on a solid show, with Walker, Dominguez, Strahm, Brogdon, Soto, and Kimbrel combining for a three hit game and only allowing a single earned run. Still, the offense went 1-for-7 today with runners in scoring position and left a total of seven stranded. While they were able to get away with that today against the Cubs, it’s unlikely teams like the Braves - who the Phils face next weekend - won’t take advantage of the Phillies’ inability to move runners across the plate.
Gamethread Comment of the Day
Today’s Gamethread comment of the day comes from MG77.
The Phillies are scheduled to host the Arizona Diamondbacks (27-20) tomorrow at 6:40 P.M. Zack Wheeler (3-3, 3.45 ERA) will take the mound for the Phillies.
Observations from Left Field
- Dansby Swanson continues to hold the stupidest name in baseball history, surpassing even Steve Sharts, Rusty Kuntz, and Cannonball Titcomb.
- Under a full moon on a chilly fog-choked night in Minnesota, Joey Gallo wandered through the woods when he heard from behind him the snap of a branch. He turned and saw a shadow cross the mist in the trees behind him. Filled with fear, he quickened his pace. Footfalls followed, grew closer, and he felt the hot breath of something inhuman crawl over the nape of his neck. Knowing he shouldn’t but unable to help himself, he peered behind him. And that’s when a wild-eyed bearded Kyle Schwarber tackled Gallo and pinned him to the ground. Schwarber looked to the full moon and howled before turning his attention to the terrified Twin and sunk his teeth into Gallo’s flesh. Darkness swallowed him. When he finally regained consciousness the next morning, Joey Gallo staggered out out of the woods and now has 11 home runs and 23 RBIs despite only hitting .215 over 107 at bats.