Harang, Francoeur Lead Phillies Past Red Sox
By Matt Veasey
Though it was only the 2nd game of this 2015 season, when Aaron Harang took the mound on this cold, damp April night at Citizens Bank Park things were already desperate for the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Beantowners laid an 8-0 whupping on the Fightins on Opening Day, and with expectations already low, this season had a chance to get really ugly, really quick.
Harang was more than anyone could have hoped for in this, his first official regular season start in a Phils uniform. The big righty shutout the Red Sox over 6.1 innings, allowing just 2 hits, with an 8-1 K:BB ratio. 70 of his 105 pitches went for strikes. In short, he pitched like an ace.
Unfortunately, Boston starter Rick Porcello, flush with dough from a new 4-year, $82.5 million contract, was matching Harang. That is, up until the bottom of the 6th.
Francoeur had a big 3-run homer, and played an excellent game in right field, keying the Phils lineup.
(Photo Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports)
With one out in their half of the 6th inning, Darin Ruf drew a walk, and was followed by a single to right off the bat of Cody Asche. That brought right fielder Jeff Francoeur to the plate.
Bosox catcher Ryan Hanigan set up outside. Porcello left a soft breaking ball on too much of the plate. Francoeur blasted it into the left-center stands. 3-0 Phillies.
In the bottom of the 7th, Ben Revere hit a ground ball to 3rd, and ended up on 3rd thanks to a Pablo Sandoval throwing error. Revere scored on a Chase Utley sacrifice, and it was a 4-0 Phillies lead.
Harang had been the key to that lead. He set down the first 11 Boston batters in this one, pitching with tremendous poise, tempo, and control right from the start. His outing was a complete contrast to what presumptive staff ace Cole Hamels produced on Monday.
Harang couldn’t go the distance, however. Up over 100 pitches in the top of the 7th, he allowed the first two Boston hitters to reach base. After getting Hanley Ramirez to fly out, Harang was replaced by Jeanmar Gomez, who promptly got Mike Napoli to line into an inning-ending double play.
The Red Sox have a lot of big sticks, and 4 runs is not often going to be enough against them. It almost wasn’t enough on this night, largely thanks to Ken Giles, who is still not back to the dominance of his 2014 campaign.
In the top of the 8th, the Phils made some defensive moves in support of Giles as he entered to pitch. Darin Ruf moved in from left field to replace Ryan Howard at 1st base, with Ben Revere sliding over to cover left, and Odubel Herrera coming in to play center field. Ruf botched his first play, his error allowing leadoff man Daniel Nava to reach base.
It was a cold, raw, damp night in Philly that had shortstop Galvis dressing like a bank robber.
(Photo Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports)
Papelbon had made some controversial pre-game remarks to the Boston Globe that included the statement “I don’t really feel much like a Phillie“, and he came very close to backing that up with action.
Ramirez crushed him to left-center for what appeared to everyone as a go-ahead grand slam. However, the ball died on this cold, wet night, settling into Revere’s glove for the 3rd out.
That turned out to be Boston’s last, best shot. The 9th was largely uneventful, even though the tying run did come to the plate. With two outs, a catcher interference call on Carlos Ruiz created that situation. But Papelbon got Bogaerts on a strikeout swinging to end the game.
In a postgame locker room interview, Papelbon was pressed on his pregame statements by Jim Salisbury and Todd Zolecki, and after uncomfortably trying to joke it off, finally clarified his position in this way:
“I feel like, for me it’s like, you know, where you from? I’m from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. So that’s what I will always say, that’s where I feel like I’m from. That’s where I grew up. That where my roots are. So when you ask me, what runs deep in you, the Red Sox still run deep in me. It’s where I’m from, it’s where I grew up. It’s who I became as a pitcher. And so that will always stick with me, no matter what. Doesn’t really change anything, how I go about my business.”
The Phillies are back to the .500 mark. Tomorrow night, young David Buchanan will head to the mound at 7:05pm to take on Justin Masterson. The Boston starter is fairly inconsistent, giving the Phils a real chance to win this series. But the offense is likely going to have to produce more than the 4 runs and 9 hits that they have so far in the season’s first two games.
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