The big story for both teams tonight is the pitching matchup. It’s not necessarily because it’s a battle of aces or anything but because of their situations.
Taijuan Walker’s start was pushed back because of his velocity concerns. For the San Francisco Giants, it’s because they need another answer in the rotation. They run a two-man starting rotation with Logan Webb and Alex Cobb but the other days use openers to get to their bulk arms like Sean Manaea or Jacob Junis.
Kyle Harrison isn’t going to give them six innings a start but they need someone else to help them back there and he’s their best pitching prospect.
The answers to Walker’s velocity concerns look fine in the first inning. He’s sitting between 92-94 mph, which is exactly what the Philadelphia Phillies were looking for.
However, there’s still trouble with the help (or lack thereof) from his defense. First, LeMonte Wade Jr. grounds a cutter right to Alec Bohm at first but his toss couldn’t lead Walker to the bag.
Next, it was a hard single by Thairo Estrada but Schwarber couldn’t field the ball cleanly which allowed Wade to take third.
That would matter when Bryson Stott made a diving play up the middle to record a force out at second, Wade would score to make it 1-0. Walker then recorded back-to-back strikeouts to get out of the jam, a jam he mostly didn’t create.
For Harrison, things didn’t get off to a hot start. Rob Thomson put right-handed pitchers around lefties Kyle Schwarber and Bryce Harper to counter Gabe Kapler using Harrison as the opener.
Harrison struck out all three righties he faced in the first inning but couldn’t stop the lefties. Schwarber ripped a fastball down the right field line for a leadoff double and Harper took a slurve to the seats.
Kyle Harrison’s outing was done after three and a third. With Stott on first after a single, Kapler went to right-hander Ryan Walker. If there are any questions about if Kapler was overmanaging, Harrison’s arm was never built up to go much further. This was always going to be his role when he was called up.
Edmundo Sosa slapped a single into left field to put runners on first and second with no outs. Both Johan Rojas and Schwarber struck out on sliders to end the threat.
It took Walker until the fifth inning to run into more trouble. After getting the first two outs of the fifth, Estrada muscled a double to left followed by a walk from Wilmer Flores.
Joc Pederson then took a splitter below the zone to the left-center field gap that Rojas almost made a spectacular play on, both runners scored to make it 3-2.
Rojas truly did everything he could, he got a great job with fantastic closing speed but he had no chance. The fact that he almost made it is as impressive as it gets in center field.
After five innings, it was it for Walker. He reached 89 pitches and had a slight dip in velocity in the previous inning. He struck out seven and displayed an exciting development with his curveball. Of his eight curveballs thrown, he generated four whiffs on five swings.
Rob Thomson went to a couple of his horses to try and give his offense time to make a comeback.
First, Seranthony Domínguez worked three quick outs after a leadoff walk.
Next, it was José Alvarado for the seventh, making his first relief appearance since July 6. It took him 27 pitches to work through four hitters, including an eight-pitch walk by Flores.
In the seventh, it was Tyler Rogers (the submarine right-hander) to face the nine-hole hitter at the top of the lineup. Thomson matched with Marsh for Rojas which worked for a leadoff hit by pitch. Unfortunately, it was the stars you’re not going to hit for that didn’t do the job.
Schwarber hit a pop-out to second base followed by back-to-back strikeouts from Trea Turner and Nick Castellanos.
Gregory Soto got the eighth inning against the bottom half of the Giants’ order.
Trouble began early when Marsh and Castellanos failed to communicate on a ball to the right-center field gap, leading to a leadoff double.
Soto worked out of the situation with ease, pumping fastballs right by JD Davis and Patrick Bailey for strikeouts, and a ground ball from Wade Meckler to end the threat.
The manager battle keeps going with Taylor Rogers (lefty) to face the middle of the Phillies order. The point of using Rogers was to try and get Harper out but he worked a walk.
It was up to right-handers Bohm and Realmuto to make it count but a double play and line out end the inning.
Thomson brought in Craig Kimbrel for the ninth to face nine, one, and two. Kapler countered with Johan Camargo, who lined out to left. After a broken-bat single from Wade, Kimbrel struckout Estrada on three pitches and forced a pop-up from Flores.
Kapler then brought out his lockdown closer for the ninth. It was up to Camilo Doval to lock down the Phillies’ order’s bottom.
Bryson Stott starts the inning by doing his best to dodge a 97.2 mph cutter but it hits his inside elbow for a leadoff base runner. Thomson tries to counter the Doval move with Jake Cave.
Cave has a 1.024 OPS in the month of August, primarily against right-handed pitching which is better than Sosa’s .670 OPS against righties for the season. He got a sinker to hit but missed it and hit a pop-up to shortstop.
Marsh made up for it, taking a 100 mph cutter right up the middle for a single that allowed Stott to turn second and head to third. After Marsh took second base without a throw, Kapler intentionally walked Schwarber to keep the double play alive.
It was up to Turner to deliver with the bases loaded, after working a two-two count and fouling off some tough sinkers down and in, he got his moment.
Turner wins the game with a 104 mph two-run single that barely went past Estrada after it went off Doval’s glove.
Tomorrow’s game starts at 4:05 with Alex Cobb getting the ball for the Giants against Michael Lorenzen. The Phillies hope to sweep the Giants to make a statement in the National League.