For the first few innings, it looked like we were in for more of the same frustration that the Phillies have provided over the past couple of days. They fell behind early, and I don’t think they could have done a better job of stranding runners on base if they tried. But Taijuan Walker settled down after a rocky start, the lineup - aided by a control-impaired Marlins pitching staff - delivered just enough clutch hitting, and the Phillies emerged with a 4-2 win over the Marlins.
After the first inning, it looked like it was going to be a long night. The Phillies wasted two walks by Marlins starter Edward Cabrera in the top of the inning, and Taijuan Walker was pitching with diminished velocity. Jorge Soler didn’t miss an 88 MPH sinker, and the Marlins were off to a 2-0 lead.
Jorge Soler homers are always majestic pic.twitter.com/3wj2ViWdnw— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) July 31, 2023
In the second inning, the first two Phillies who came to the plate walked. With two men on and a pitcher who had already walked four batters (Ironic that the pitcher not named Walker was the one who kept walking people), Jake Cave decided that it was a good idea to swing at the first pitch. The result was a rally killing double play.
BACK TO BACK WALKS, GUY CANT FIND THE ZONE, AND JAKE CAVE SWINGS AT THE FIRST GOD DAMN PITCH AND HITS INTO A DOUBLE PLAY— The Good Phight (@TheGoodPhight) July 31, 2023
The Phillies stranded two more in the third, and then again got their first two runners on base in the fourth. That marked the end of Cabrera’s night, as lefty reliever Steven Okert came in to face Cave. Realizing he had no chance of hitting Okert, Cave bunted the runners over.
It might have seemed like a questionable strategy to move the runners over for the rookie nine-hole hitter, but darned if Johan Rojas didn’t come through.
THE ROOKIE!!!— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) July 31, 2023
Johan Rojas drives in two and we're all tied up! pic.twitter.com/B1KeX5nL5S
Walker settled down after his shaky first inning, and the game remained tied at two until the seventh, when the Phillies loaded the bases. When most teams load the bases, the fans expect a big inning. When the Phillies load the bases, the fans hope they’ll manage to just get one run out of it. And that’s exactly what they got, courtesy of Bryson Stott’s sacrifice fly.
In the eighth, the Phillies again drew two walks in the inning (ten total on the night) and newly installed two-hole hitter Alec Bohm actually delivered a clutch single to drive in an insurance run and make us wonder why he hadn’t been batting second for the past week.
Big insurance run provided by Alec Bohm, who's up to .358 with runners in scoring position and on pace for 101 RBI.— Corey Seidman (@CSeidmanNBCS) August 1, 2023
A two-run lead is about as much as the Phillies’ bullpen can hope for these days, and after Walker’s night was over after 6.2 innings, Matt Strahm, Jeff Hoffman, and Craig Kimbrel made sure it held up.
Should this game have been close? No. When the opponent walks ten batters, four runs are about the minimum number to expect. But thanks to a good night by Walker and the bullpen, it was enough to put this one in the win column.
On Tuesday, they’ll face Sandy Alcantara who is having a down year, but is coming off his best start of the season. It seems doubtful that he’ll be quite as generous with the bases on balls, so if the Phillies want a second straight victory, they’re going to have to earn it.