The script says we’re about to see Chase Utley ride in to save the season, but the Phillies looked more than capable of saving themselves last night. They sparkled with the gloves and got home runs from Ruiz and Wigginton as they topped the Pirates 5-4.
Their defense was outstanding in the game. In the top of the first, Worley made a nifty glove-hand flip to Ruiz to nail a runner from third for the second out. Fontenot made a fantastic diving play on a ball up the middle for the second out in the third. Mayberry made a beautiful throw from left to nail a runner at the plate and help get the Phils out of a jam in the seventh. Ruiz tracked down a bunt running up against the wall after a leadoff double by the Pirates started the eighth.
The pen was good enough in a tight game. Michael Schwimer, in particular, was excellent. Schwimer entered the top of the seventh with nobody out, runners on second and third and the Phillies up a run. After going way up and in to Jose Tabata on the first pitch of Tabata’s at-bat, Tabata grounded back to the mound with the runners holding for the first out. Neil Walker was next and flew to left, with Mayberry making the catch and a fantastic throw to the plate where Ruiz applied the tag for the third out.
The Phillies are 36-40 on the year after beating the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-4 last night. The Phillies have won the first two games of the set and are in fourth place in the NL East, eight games behind the first-place Nationals. Since the end of the day on June 12, the Phillies have played 13 games and gone 7-6, which is the best mark in the NL East.
Worley got the start for the Phillies and went six innings, allowing three runs on six hits and two walks. Four of the hits went for extra-bases, all doubles. He struck out five.
It was the worst of Worley’s last four starts and the only game of the four that the Phillies have won. He has a 2.08 ERA over his last four outings and opponents have hit .198 against him. He’s allowed one home run in 30 innings in June.
Jose Tabata was the first batter of the game and Worley hit him with an 0-1 pitch. Neil Walker was next and Worley walked him, putting runners on first and second for Andrew McCutchen. McCutchen grounded to short for the first out with the runners moving up to second and third. Garrett Jones was next and hit a ball fielded by Worley. Worley glove-flipped home where Tabata was tagged out by Ruiz for the second out. Casey McGehee grounded to short to leave the runners stranded.
Worley keeps the Pirates off the board after the first two hitters of the inning reach base. Very nice play to get the second out.
The Phillies were up 1-0 when Pedro Alvarez doubled to center to start the second. Clint Barmes grounded to short for the first out with Alvarez moving up to third. Michael McKenry was next and flew to left, deep enough for Alvarez to tag and score, tying the game at 1-1. Worley struck the pitcher Eric Bedard out looking to end the frame.
Up 2-1, Worley threw a 1-2-3 third. Fontenot made a nice diving play on a ball hit up the middle by Walker for the second out.
Up 4-1, he struck out Jones and Alvarez in a 1-2-3 fourth.
McKenry doubled to left with one out in the fifth and Bedard bunted him to third with the second out. Tabata grounded to second to leave him at third.
McCutchen doubled with one out in the sixth and moved up to third on a ground out by Jones. McGehee followed with a single to right that scored McCutchen, cutting the lead to 4-2. Worley struck Alvarez out swinging 2-2 to leave McGehee at first.
Worley allowed the first two batters in the top of the seventh to reach on a walk (Barmes) and a single (McKenry). It put men on first and second and switch-hitter Drew Sutton hit for the pitcher Bedard and doubled softly to left, scoring Barmes (4-3) and moving McKenry to third. Schwimer came in to pitch to the righty Tabata and got him on a ground ball Schwimer handled himself with the runners holding at second and third. Walker was next and flew to left. Mayberry took it there for the second out. McKenry tagged and tried to score from third, but Mayberry’s throw from left was fantastic and Ruiz applied the tag to end the inning.
Fantastic throw by Mayberry. Schwimer keeps the Pirates from getting more after coming into the game with nobody out, runners on second and third and the Phils up one. He got more than a little bit of luck on the ball Tabata hit after Schwimer’s first pitch to Tabata was up and in. Tabata hit the ball hard, but Schwimer was able to field it and throw to first for the first out. Big defensive play by Schwimer, but without it the Pirates might have had two runs instead of none.
Schwimer only threw five pitches in the game, but that might be the biggest outing of his career to this point. After throwing to an 8.53 ERA over his first five appearances through the end of May, Schwimer has made ten June appearances in which he has thrown to a 1.86 ERA with an 0.72 ratio, allowing four hits and three walks over 9 2/3 innings. Opponents have hit .129 against him in June. Again, the Phillies really, really need a righty in the pen other than Qualls and Papelbon. Schwimer was fantastic last night, but I don’t think you want to try to cash that check just yet.
Bastardo started the eighth and allowed a leadoff double to McCutchen. Righty Josh Harrison hit for the lefty Jones and tried to bunt McCutchen up to third. He popped up the first pitch he saw from Bastardo and Ruiz made a fantastic running basket catch near the wall for the first out. McGehee popped to Wigginton for the second out and Bastardo struck out Alvarez for the third.
Great defensive play by Ruiz helps Bastardo out of a jam after the leadoff double.
Bastardo pitches the eighth inning isn’t going to work. I think it has to be a combination of Bastardo and Qualls, with Qualls facing the righties and Bastardo the lefties. That’s tough, though, since Qualls really can’t face lefties in a tight game, but at least the Phillies have four lefties in the pen who can. It probably wasn’t a choice last night, though, with Qualls having thrown five of the last six days, including the ninth inning of game one of the series with a five-run lead. Bastardo got the righties Harrison and McGehee with a man in scoring position before striking out the lefty Alvarez.
Bastardo has thrown three of the last four days and last night’s was the only appearance of the three in which he was not charged with a run. He has a 5.84 ERA over his last 12 appearances and opponents have hit .302 against him in those outings. He’s walked ten of the 65 (15.4%) right-handed batters he’s faced on the year, which is one of the reasons he can’t be the guy against everyone in the eighth inning. See also the 5.84 ERA over his last 12 appearances.
Papelbon started the ninth with the Phils up 5-3. He struck Barmes out for the first out before McKenry hit a 2-2 pitch out to left-center, cutting the lead to 5-4. Lefty Alex Presley hit for the pitcher Tony Watson and flew to left for the second out. Tabata struck out swinging 2-2 to end the game.
Papelbon has allowed runs in each of his last three appearances. Over those three outings, he has allowed four runs on six hits and two walks over three innings and his ERA for the year has gone from 2.02 to 3.03. If it’s 4.04 after three more days we really need to start to worry. He has a 5.00 ERA in his eight June appearances.
Schwimer was fantastic in the game, wriggling out of the seventh inning jam with the help of a great throw from Mayberry. But we don’t need to go nuts about how fantastic the bullpen was in the game. Overall they went three innings, allowing a run on two hits, a double and a home run. Schwimer needed a nice play on Tabata’s ball and a great throw by Mayberry to keep the Pirates off the board. Had Ruiz not homered in the eighth to put the Phils up another run, nobody would have a whole lot to say about the excellence of the pen this morning.
Papelbon threw 20 pitches in the game, Bastardo ten and Schwimer five. Everyone in the bullpen should be available for tonight’s game — their availability might wind up mattering a lot given that the Phils look likely to start Valdes or Savery.
The Phillies lineup against lefty Eric Bedard went (1) Rollins (2) Polanco (3) Pence (4) Ruiz (5) Victorino (6) Wigginton (7) Mayberry (8) Fontenot. Fontenot starts at second against the lefty with the switch-hitter Martinez on the bench. Wigginton at first and Mayberry in left with Pierre on the bench.
Pence tripled to right with two outs in the first and came in to score when Ruiz followed with a single to left. 1-0. Victorino moved Ruiz to second with a single into center, but Wigginton grounded to second to leave both runners stranded.
Fontenot singled to center with one out in the second and the score tied at 1-1. Worley bunted him to second with the second out and Rollins walked behind Worley. Polanco was next with two outs and men on first and second. He singled to left. Fontenot scored from second, putting the Phils up 2-1. Rollins was caught between second and third and tagged out to end the inning.
Worley gets the bunt down and Polanco delivers a two-out single. Fontenot starts the rally with a single off of a lefty. Looked like they had a chance to get Fontenot at the plate, but the throw was cut to get Rollins headed for third.
Ruiz singled to right with one out in the third. Victorino flew out behind him, but Wigginton was next and he hit a 3-2 pitch out to left, putting the Phils up 4-1. Mayberry grounded to second for the third out.
Big blow for Wigginton, who was 9-for-his-last-52 (.173) coming into the game.
The Phillies went in order in the fourth.
Polanco singled to start the fifth and Pence walked behind him, putting runners on first and second with nobody out. Ruiz flew to right, Victorino struck out and Wigginton grounded to third.
Polanco on-base again, but nothing for the Phils after putting runners on first and second with no outs. Polanco is 6-for-his-last-10 with two walks.
The lead was cut to 4-2 when the Phils went in order in the sixth.
It was 4-3 when righty Juan Cruz set them down in order in the seventh.
Ruiz homered to left on an 0-2 pitch from Cruz to start the eighth, putting the Phils up 5-3. Victorino followed with a walk and moved up to second when Wigginton followed with a single. Lefty Tony Watson came in to pitch to Mayberry and struck him out swinging for the first out as Victorino stole third. With men on first and third, the righty Luna hit for the lefty Fontenot. Watson got him to ground into a double-play to end the inning.
Home run by Ruiz is the difference in the game with Papelbon allowing a solo shot to McKenry in the ninth. Again the Phils can’t add on despite putting men on first and second with nobody out. Mayberry gets a gift as the Pirates bring in a lefty to pitch to him, but strikes out for the first out with two men on and nobody out.
Rollins was 0-for-3 with a walk. He’s 2-for-his-last-11 with two walks, a double and a home coming off of an 11-game stretch where he hit .417.
Polanco 2-for-4 with an RBI. 6-for-his-last-10 with two walks and two doubles. He’s driven in at least one run in three straight games.
Pence 1-for-3 with a walk and a triple. 9-for-his-last-40 (.225).
Ruiz 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBI, raising his average to a league-high .361. 6-for-his-last-9. .419 over his last nine games (419/528/674 in 53 plate appearances).
Victorino 1-for-3 with a walk. .224 over his last 67 plate appearances. He’s walked four times in his last four games, giving him a .412 on-base percentage in those games despite hitting .231 (3-for-13).
Wigginton 2-for-4 with a huge home run. The only thing we should be expecting Wigginton to do is hit against lefties and he delivered a big blow against Bedard last night. Against left-handed pitching, he’s hitting an ugly .238 for the year, but five home runs in 65 at-bats against southpaws have helped him to slug .477 against them.
Mayberry 0-for-4. The spark he was showing a week or so ago seems to have faded. He’s 1-for-his-last-16 with six strikeouts. Like Wigginton, Mayberry needs to hit lefties and has hit for power against them despite weak numbers overall. Mayberry is hitting 268/274/537 against left-handed pitching for the year and 206/267/280 against righties. 206/267/280 means you can’t be on the field against righties as a corner outfielder or a first baseman. If you’re going to on-base .274 against lefties, slugging .537 isn’t enough.
Fontenot 1-for-3 in the game to drop his average on the year to .344. Fantastic diving play in the top of the third might have helped his cause significantly given his defensive struggles in his first few appearances with the team. He’s hitting 408/442/490 in 52 plate appearances against righties. The team needs guys who can hit righties — again, take a look at what Mayberry and Wigginton have done against righties from positions that should be supplying the offense (not suggestion we should or will see Fontenot at first or left, although I honestly don’t think Fontenot at first against a righty if Wigginton and Mayberry are both struggling badly is impossible).
TBD faces righty James McDonald (6-3, 2.19) tonight. No game on Friday night due to rain messed up the rotation for the Phils. It’s Kendrick’s turn, but he would be on short rest and so would everyone behind him until the next off-day (July 2) if the Phils don’t give a start to somebody not in the rotation. We’ll see what happens. McDonald has been great this year. Opponents have hit .195 against him and he hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any of his starts. Righties are hitting 184/245/286 against him for the season.
Update: Looks like Valdes (2-0, 1.84) starts tonight. He has one other career start, which came with the Mets in 2010. He allowed a run on three hits and four walks over 5 1/3 innings and the Mets beat the Nats 7-2.
Chase Utley went 2-for-5 with a home run for the Triple-A IronPigs and is coming soon to a theater near you.