May 29, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies fans cheer as left fielder Domonic Brown (9) rounds the bases after hitting a home run during the fourth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Before the start of the 2011 season, Domonic Brown was ranked as the fourth-best prospect by Baseball America. He was seen as a potential cornerstone player, someone around whom the Phillies would build their future.
And now, after parts of three disappointing mini-seasons and finally getting the regular playing time he’s sorely needed, Brown appears to be putting it all together.
His recent homer binge continued last night against the Red Sox, with solo homers in the second and eighth innings, backing Kyle Kendrick‘s outstanding performance in a 4-3 win over the Red Sox at Citizens Bank Park.
It was the second straight night Brown hit a homer in the Phils’ final trip up to the plate, and the second straight night a Brown solo shot gave the Phillies a much-needed insurance run. Brown now has five home runs in his last three games, six in his last five, and 10 in the month of May.
That’s led to a lot of excitement around these parts.
Over the weekend, I suggested that Chase Utley was the only “good” hitter on the Phillies. We may have to amend that list.
Still, there are the Debbie Downers out there…
And that is a legitimate concern. Brown has long been a player who has had a good eye at the plate and walked at or near the league average rate. One would think (and hope) his newly aggressive approach will change a bit once pitchers stop throwing him hittable fastballs early in the count.
But for a team starved for power, Domonic Brown’s dinger binge is a welcome change.
His May slugging percentage of .644 and OPS of .931 have been a revelation, more than making up for the fact he hasn’t been getting on base the same way he used to. Obviously, Brown needs to get that on-base percentage over .300, and preferably in the .330-.340 range. But the Phillies aren’t about to look a gift horse in the mouth.
Ryan Howard and Erik Kratz also hit solo homers, accounting for the Phils’ four runs last night. For Howard, it once again ended a long homer-less streak for the slugging left-hander with a bum knee.
May 29, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies left fielder Domonic Brown (9) hits a home run during the fourth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Meanwhile, Kendrick was very good again after two starts in which he struggled with his control. And while he did walk three batters last night in six innings of four-hit, two-run ball, he was in better command of his stuff for most of the night. The late-inning trio of Antonio Bastardo, Mike Adams and Jonathan Papelbon pitched the 7th, 8th and 9th innings to finish out the ballgame.
With the win, the Phillies moved to 26-27, and will try to finally scale Mount .500 tonight as they look to Jonathan Pettibone to take three out of four from Boston in this four-game home-and-home series. Losses by both Atlanta and Washington last night drew the Phils to withing 5 1/2 of the Braves and 1 game behind the Nationals in the NL East.
Where It All Went Right
When Dom Brown hit his ninth inning home run. After Howard and John Mayberry stranded the bases loaded in the 8th, Brown’s huge insurance run proved to be the difference, as Papelbon gave up a cheap run in the 9th. It also seemed to give a lift to a city hungry for a new young stud to get excited about.
Brown, for being totally awesome and reminding Philadelphia fans of a time when the players they root for actually used to hit home runs at Citizens Bank Park with some kind of regularity.
David Ortiz, who tried to ruin the party last night in the top of the 9th, batting against Papelbon as the tying run. He failed, which made everyone happy. Big Papi, though, tried to do mean things, therefore he is a villain. If only J.D. Drew were still around.