You will not win many games scoring only a single run. But of course, “not many” is not “none”. You can win with a struggling offense. All you have to do is make the other guys struggle harder.
Detroit looked to even up the series after a loss to a resurgent Aaron Nola last night. Surely Taijuan Walker would be easier to crack? Perhaps not: Walker started things off in grand fashion, sending each of the first three Tigers down on swinging strikeouts. In the blink of an eye, it was time for the Phillies to take their first hacks.
Tyler Alexander took to the mound for the Tigers for his first start of the season. Unfortunately for him, his first opponent was June Kyle Schwarber. A solo shot ensued.
Harper hit one about as deep as you can without it going out; sadly, partial credit does not exist in baseball. The inning ended with a 1-0 lead for the home team.
Walker sent the next 3 Tigers down too, though only one on a strikeout (progress for the Tigers, of a sort). The Phillies followed suit by going down in order themselves.
Walker finally relented just a bit in the top of the 3rd, walking Miguel Cabrera to allow his first baserunner of the night. The future resident of Cooperstown advanced to second on a wild pitch. Tightening up fast, Walker sent the next two down on strikeouts, with a flyout ending the threat. The Phillies went down in order again in their half, with Schwarber making the last out. Not every June at-bat will be a winner.
The 4th was another blink and you’ll miss it Walker 1-2-3 inning. One could get used to those. José Cisnero took to the mound for the Motor City Kitties as they continued their bullpen game. Nick Castellanos reached base when old friend Nick Maton bobbled a ball, preventing him from making a timely throw to first. Trea Turner just barely missed out on his third homer in 2 games with a flyout to deepest center-left. J.T. Realmuto came even closer to a trip ‘round the bases, slamming one to left that ended up on the wrong side of the foul pole. He took the next pitch for a deep flyout, stranding Castellanos.
The Tigers finally got a hit in the top of the 5th, on a small bloop from Zack Short. Cabrera doubled to right, and suddenly the anemic Tigers offense was a single away from tying it, an extra-base hit away from taking the lead. Walker gave the next batter a base on balls, and the Tigers had the bases loaded with 1 out. But Walker punched out Jake Marisnick for the second out, and induced a lineout to center from Zach McKinstry to end the threat and keep the shutout going. Bend, don’t break.
Tyler Holton was the next hurler up for Detroit. He faced Stott to start the bottom of the inning, who promptly chopped one in front of second for one of those cheap hits that are either aggravating or hilarious, depending whether you’re on the receiving side or not. Perhaps Detroit saw the humor in it anyway. Even if not, they were smiling after the next play, where a diving grab from Short put Marsh out and left Stott without a prayer of making it back to first. Not to be outdone, Akil Baddoo dove to catch a well-hit ball from Drew Ellis in left, ending the inning.
Walker continued his excellent work in the top of the 6th, allowing a walk but otherwise keeping things moving along swiftly. The Phillies got some help from the bottom of the lineup as Kody Clemens singled to left as the first batter in the bottom of the inning, advancing to second on a wild pitch. But Schwarber and Castellanos struck out and Harper grounded out, stranding yet another batter.
Walker went out for the 7th without missing a beat, twirling his 4th 1-2-3 inning of the night (with an assist from Turner, who caught a screaming line drive for the third out). Will Vest continued the bullpen game for the Tigers, striking out Turner and Realmuto and getting Stott to fly out.
Walker’s day was done after the 7th, with the bullpen being tasked with preserving the win for him. First out of the pen was Seranthony Dominguez. who picked up right where Walker left off. He allowed a baserunner via a single, but otherwise stymied the visitors. In turn, the Phillies were stymied by Vest in the bottom of the 8th.
Craig Kimbrel was handed the ball for the 9th, punching out Maton and Baddoo to bring Detroit to the brink. Short soon found himself staring glumly at a called third strike to end it.
The Phillies win their second series in a row. They’ll play a final game against Detroit tomorrow before they look to continue their series win streak against the Dodgers later in the week.