May 14, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies center fielder John Mayberry (15) hits a two RBI double during the fourth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Two weeks ago, the Phillies were the victims of a merciless beating in Cleveland.
Outscored 20-2 by the Indians in a brief two game series at the Mistake by the Lake, the Phils hosted Cleveland in the first game of a two-game series last night at Citizens Bank Park with one thing on their minds…
Try not to get beat by double digits.
"“They just kicked our butt,” Kevin Frandsen said last night of their beatdown at the hands of the Tribe a fortnight ago. “You would hope the guys would realize that, and I feel like we did. The last thing you want to do in any sport, it doesn’t matter if it’s baseball, basketball, hockey, you don’t want to get embarrassed. I feel like maybe we got embarrassed over there.” – quote per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki"
Last night’s game featured a bit of nostalgia for the Phils, who faced Indians starter Scott Kazmir for the first time since Game 5 of the 2008 World Series. And, like that rain-shortened outing five years ago, Kazmir struggled against a much weaker Phils lineup last night, giving up 4 earned runs on 6 hits while walking 2, including two bombs to Kevin Frandsen and Dominic Brown.
Pettibone, meanwhile, continued to impress, hitting his spots all night long and staying ahead of hitters. He pitched 6 2/3 innings, giving up 2 earned runs on 4 hits and 2 walks, striking out 3. He now has a 3.41 ERA in five starts and is 3-0, contributing to a stat that I don’t think anyone saw coming at the beginning of the year…
Offensively, Mayberry paced the way, hitting a key two-run double in the fourth inning against Kazmir, and a big RBI single in the eighth that gave the Phils a 3-run lead. Mayberry had been struggling, batting just .143 with a .192 on-base percentage and an OPS of .458 in his last 19 games (52 PAs) with 9 strikeouts.
The Phils got a solo home run from Kevin Frandsen, who gave Chase Utley the day off against a left-hander. It was nice to see Charlie Manuel take a suggestion of mine, and even better to see it actually work out.
Domonic Brown also hit a solo homer, his seventh on the year, tying him for the team lead with Utley. Brown has really excelled against left-handed pitching this year – hitting .314 (11-for-35) with one double, three home runs and seven RBIs against lefties – a terrific sign for his development as an everyday player. He’s now on pace to hit 28 HRs this year, an outstanding number in his first full year in the Majors.
However, there is one troubling trend with the two homers last night…
Maybe the top of that lineup can start to get some guys on base, huh?
May 14, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Jonathan Pettibone (44) delivers to the plate during the third inning against the Cleveland Indians at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
As for the ‘pen, three relievers danced between the raindrops in the eighth inning and protected a two-run lead. Antonio Bastardo, who entered the game in the seventh and got the final out, gave up a lead-off triple to Asdrubal Cabrera then got Nick Swisher to strike out looking, followed by a walk to Carlos Santana. With runners on first and third and Mike Adams unavailable due to back spasms, Manuel went to rookie right-hander Justin De Fratus, who threw two fantastic pitches to Mark Reynolds, getting the slugger to pop weakly to second. Finally, Manuel then called on Jeremy Horst to retire left-handed hitting Michael Brantley, which he did via strikeout.
Three young arms holding down the fort, with Charlie Manuel playing the match-ups. It was smart baseball, even if all the pitching changes did make the inning seem about two hours long.
With the win, the Phils pull back to within two games of .500 at 19-21, and sit just 3 1/2 games back in the division, as neither Atlanta nor Washington has played particularly well of late either. The Phillies have now won three in a row for the third time this year, and will look to notch their first four-game winning streak this afternoon. Cole Hamels (1-5, 4.18) faces righty Cory Kluber (2-2, 5.64).
Hopefully, the Phils will able to score more than two runs for their ace left-hander today.
Where It All Went Right
When the ‘pen came in and got themselves out of a man-on-third, no-out jam, as well as a first-and-third, one-out jam. It was especially great to see young guys De Fratus and Horst deliver in a huge situation. Those are incredible confidence builders for the two, and more of a sign that, when John Lannan is ready to come off the disabled list, it may be Phillippe Aumont who is sent back down to AAA and not De Fratus.
John Mayberry, whose three RBIs paced the offense. Listen, we’re not going to be able to type the words “Mayberry” and “hero” next to each other very often this season, so let’s do it while we can.
Nick Swisher, who I wanted the Phils to sign in the offseason and went 2 for 3 with a run scored. And now that the Phillies don’t have Swisher, it’s a lot easier to dislike him, seeing as how he’s kind of a smug, look-at-me type of player. Yeah, I don’t like him. I’ve decided.