Sooner or later, and probably sooner, JA Happ is going to struggle. Opposing hitters are going to adjust and hit him hard, really hard, and his numbers will explode. Sometime in the next two or three years someone is sure to say that he just doesn’t have the mental makeup to succeed at this level. But if you watched last night, that’s going to be a tough one to swallow. In last night’s game in Atlanta, with 11 games left to play in the season and the Phils clinging to the slimmest of leads in the NL East, Happ tossed six shutout innings to beat the Braves and earn the first win of his career.
The Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves last night, winning 6-1 to improve to 85-67 on the season. They are 18 games over .500 for the first time this year and have won six games in a row for the first time this year. They remain a half game ahead of the Mets in the NL East.
JA Happ got the start for the Phillies and went six shutout innings, allowing three hits and a walk. One of the hits went for extra-bases, a double, and he struck out three.
Casey Kotchman’s double against Happ in the fifth last night is the only extra-base hit that Phillies pitchers have allowed in the first two games of the series.
He started the first up 4-0. Chipper Jones singled with two outs. Brian McCann flew to right for the third out.
Jeff Francoeur singled with two outs in the second. Happ struck out Josh Anderson for the third out.
Happ set the Braves down in order in the third and again in the fourth.
Casey Kotchman started the fifth with a double. Francoeur was next and he hit a high foul ball behind third that Burrell made a nice play on after a long run, backhanding the ball and fighting off a fan. Anderson flew to center for the second out and Yunel Escobar hit for the pitcher Jair Jurrjens and drew a walk. Happ got Martin Prado to ground to short to leave both runners stranded.
He threw a 1-2-3 sixth.
Durbin pitched the seventh with the Phils up 4-0. He allowed a one-out single to Kotchman, but struck out Francoeur for the second out and got Anderson to ground out to first for the third.
He came back for the eighth with the Phils up 5-0. He got the first two before Kelly Johnson singled to center. Chipper was next and Durbin walked him. Romero came in to pitch to the lefty McCann and got McCann to pop to the mound to end the inning.
I don’t think I would have brought Durbin back for a second inning with a five-run lead. Romero has turned into a one-out guy — he hasn’t gotten more than one out in any of his last four appearances.
Condrey started the ninth with the Phils up 6-0. Francoeur singled with two outs and took second on defensive indifference. Greg Norton hit for the pitcher Blaine Boyer and singled into center. Francoeur scored and it was 6-1. Blanco flew to left for the third out.
The pen went three innings, allowing a run on four hits and a walk. Durbin pitched for the second straight day and threw 34 pitches. That seems unnecessary. Condrey threw 16 pitches, Romero two.
The Phillies lineup against righty Jair Jurrjens went (1) Rollins (2) Utley (3) Werth (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Victorino (7) Feliz (8) Ruiz. Big surprise to me to see Burrell in the lineup against the righty with the Phils expecting to see Hampton (it looks now like they will see another lefty, Jo-Jo Reyes) today. Werth third again with Victorino sixth. Feliz plays third and Ruiz catches.
Rollins grounded to first to start the game, but Utley and Werth followed with back-to-back walks before Howard laced a single into right. Utley scored to put the Phils up 1-0 with Werth holding at second. With Burrell at the plate, Werth stole third and McCann’s throw hit him and went into left field, allowing Werth to score and put the Phils up 2-0. Howard moved to second on the play and held second as Burrell flew to right for the second out. Victorino singled, moving Howard to third, and then stole second without a throw. Ruiz got behind 0-2 but hit a 2-2 pitch back through the middle for a two-run single. 4-0. Happ struck out for the third out.
Big two-out hit for Ruiz.
The Phils went 1-2-3 in the second.
Howard walked to start the third. Burrell was next and lined a ball to second that Johnson caught. Johnson threw to second and doubled Howard off. Victorino flew to left for the third out.
Ruiz walked with one out in the fourth and Happ bunted him to second. Rollins reached on an infield single that moved Ruiz to third and stole second, but Utley struck out swinging to leave the runners stranded at second and third.
Werth started the fifth with a single, but Howard hit into a double-play behind him. Burrell flew to right for the third out.
Victorino started the sixth with an infield single. Feliz lined to short for the first out and Ruiz hit into a double-play to end the frame.
Utley walked with two outs in the seventh, but Werth struck out to leave him stranded.
Burrell singled with one out in the eighth and Bruntlett ran for him at first. Victorino followed with a single that moved Bruntlett to third. Feliz was next and he hit a double-play ball to second, but Johnson thought there were two outs and threw to first. Bruntlett scored from third to put the Phillies up 5-0. Ruiz flew to right for the third out.
Stairs hit for Romero with righty Blaine Boyer on the mound and hit a 1-0 pitch out to right to put the Phils up 6-0. Werth doubled after Rollins and Utley went down and Howard was walked intentionally. With two outs and men on first and second, Bruntlett struck out to end the frame.
Rollins was 1-for-5 with his 43rd stolen base.
Utley 0-for-3 with two walks.
Werth 2-for-4 with a double and a walk. 5-for-8 with two walks in the first two games of the set.
Howard 1-for-3 with two walks and an RBI. Also 5-for-8 with two walks in the first two games of the set.
Victorino 3-for-4. He’s 10-for-his-last-13. Really he is.
Feliz 0-for-3 with a walk and an RBI. 0-for-his-last-11, but surely in the lineup tonight against the lefty Reyes.
Ruiz was 1-for-3 with a walk and two RBI. He has more RBI in the last two games than he did in all of July and August combined.
Cole Hamels (13-9, 3.11) faces lefty Jo-Jo Reyes (3-11, 5.50) tonight. Righties are hitting 307/387/498 against Reyes. He has an 8.48 ERA and a 2.13 ratio since the All-Star break. In 16 2/3 innings against the Phils this season he’s thrown to a 7.56 ERA and a 1.68 ratio. Coste is 2-for-2 with a homer against him, Burrell 4-for-8 with two doubles and a home run. Hamels pitched on Saturday and held the Brewers to two runs in 6 1/3 innings, both of which scored on a fly ball that Burrell misplayed into a double.