Finally. For the first time since Aug. 2-Aug. 5, the Phillies have secured a series win.
They sealed a series victory over the Marlins on Saturday night with a 5-4 win, thanks to two timely hits and excellent work from the bullpen.
After Vince Velasquez allowed four runs in the second inning, manager Gabe Kapler had Justin Bour pinch hit for his starter with two outs and the bases loaded. Bour ripped a two-RBI single to left-center field.
Velasquez hasn’t lasted more than five innings in seven straight starts.
Cesar Hernandez provided the other big hit of the night, a three-run homer in the fifth inning to give the Phillies the 5-4 lead.
Seven Phillies pitchers combined to throw seven scoreless innings out of the bullpen. Pat Neshek earned his fifth save of the season, working around an error by defensive replacement Pedro Florimon to start the inning.
The Phillies are 76-71, 6 1/2 behind the Braves in the NL East and 5 games behind the Dodgers for the second NL Wild Card spot.
Win at all costs?
Scott Kingery started the game, but he didn’t get an at-bat. That’s because Kapler pinch hit for him with one out and the bases loaded in the second inning, sending up switch-hitter Asdrubal Cabrera against righty Brett Graves. Cabrera struck out.
The move seemed to be a pretty clear indication that Kapler is still prioritizing winning now over giving his young players more opportunities, despite the Phillies’ nearly evaporated postseason hopes.
That was quick
Marlins spot starter Jarlin Garcia threw just one perfect inning (12 pitches), much less than the 45-50 pitches Kapler said he was expecting him to go pregame. His abbreviated start was a reminder that the “opener” strategy Kapler discussed before the game is slowly spreading across baseball (see story).
Like a natural
Rhys Hoskins was at first base for the second straight night and the fourth time this season, with Carlos Santana remaining at third base and Aaron Altherr in left field. He made a nice play at his natural position in the sixth inning, sprinting into foul territory and grabbing a basket catch. Friday night, Hoskins said he prefers first base to left field but doesn’t care where he plays as long as he gets to hit (see story).
On the mend
According to Kapler, Maikel Franco is still experiencing some soreness in his injured shoulder, though he’s improving. Franco hurt his shoulder Tuesday flipping into the camera well going after a foul ball.
Kapler said the team would likely use Franco off the bench before re-inserting him into the starting lineup.
Jerad Eickhoff threw a three-inning simulated game off the mound about three hours before the first pitch. Kapler liked what he saw.
“Really good curveball today,” Kapler said. “Really sharp. Good swings and misses, too. One of the things that I think is really important for Eickhoff, especially as his stuff is building back up, is to use it on the inside part of the plate and in off the plate, and he showed that today. Obviously it’s just a simulated game, but it’s nice to see him really attack hitters like he did.”
Eickhoff, who has been sidelined most of the season with a lat injury and tingling in his fingers, has pitched in just one game for the Phillies, throwing one inning on Sep. 8. Kapler said the current plan is to keep the rotation intact, but that’s subject to change.
Especially if the Phillies fall further out of contention, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Eickhoff make a start, or at least an extended appearance.