A big reason why the Phillies have struggled in 2014 is because the back-end of their roster has not played well. Stars like Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and Jonathan Papelbon have mostly lived up to expectations, but the remainder of the team – the bench in particular – has struggled.
On Thursday afternoon, the Phillies completed a sweep of the San Diego Padres with a 7-3 victory. And the victory was largely thanks to contributions from some of the team’s less heralded members.
It started with a quality start from Kyle Kendrick. After surrendering his customary first inning runs – one of which was unearned – Kendrick pitched well. He allowed one earned run in six innings and didn’t walk a batter.
With the game tied in the sixth inning, the Phillies needed a hero. And lately, nobody has been more of a hero than the sporadically unawful Reid Brignac. For the second straight game, Brignac drove in the winning runs, this time via a two-run double.
The Phillies offense wasn’t done. In the seventh, John Mayberry, Jr., one of the few players who has actually thrived in a reserve role – added a three-run home run.
The rest of the game would have been unmemorable if not for the major league debut of reliever Ken Giles. Ryne Sandberg apparently REALLY wanted to ease Giles into major league life, as he didn’t put him in a game until there were two outs in the ninth inning of a five-run game.
Giles came in firing his notorious high 90’s fastball, but as they say, the faster a pitch comes in, the faster it can go out. Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal welcomed Giles to the big leagues by sending a 95 MPH fastball into the seats.
Giles rebounded by striking out the next batter and sending Phillies fans home happy.
For the first time in a long time, the Phillies are on a three-game winning streak and actually have some momentum. With a three-game set against the last-place Chicago Cubs forthcoming, they have a great opportunity to continue their winning ways. But that would be much easier if they can continue to get contributions from throughout their roster.
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