Reds Win Call and Game, Phillies Out at Home


The Cincinnati Reds avoided a sweep at Citizens Bank Park, keying off a huge “challenge” play involving the home plate collision rule and seizing a 6-4 victory over the Phillies.

More from That Balls Outta Here

Aaron Harang (4-6) took the loss for the Phils in a rare poor outing for him this season. Harang yielded 5 earned runs on 6 hits across 5.2 innings in which he also walked a season-high 5 batters. It was the most walks allowed by the big righty since last June 6th, when he walked 6 while pitching for the Braves against Arizona.

The Reds jumped on top quickly against Harang, scoring in the top of the 1st when Brandon Phillips led off with a single and came around to score on an RBI double from Todd Frazier.

The Phillies got that back and one more in their half of the 1st inning. Ben Revere led off with a triple to the wall in centerfield, and immediately scored on a ground out to 2nd base. Chase Utley then doubled, moved to 3rd on a ground out, and came in to score the go ahead run on a Maikel Franco double.

Despite his lack of command, Harang was battling and had a chance in this one until a major call went against the Phillies in the top of the 5th. The inning began with Harang walking Skip Schumaker. Then Reds starting pitcher Anthony DeSclafani reached on a perfectly laid bunt.

Following a sacrifice bunt that moved those two runners over to 2nd and 3rd respectively, Phillips smacked an RBI double to left, scoring Schumaker with the tying run. The Phils’ then chose to intentionally walk Joey Votto, setting up a bases loaded situation.

It was a big momentum play…It was the right call.” ~ Sandberg, on the collision challenge ruling

The next batter, Frazier, bounced a grounder right at shortstop Freddy Galvis, who fired home to Carlos Ruiz. The Phils’ catcher placed the tag on DeSclafani, and the Phillies appeared to have a key force out, cutting down the go-ahead run at the plate with the 2nd out.

However, Reds manager Bryan Price decided to challenge the call on the basis that Ruiz was blocking the plate. Under the new collision avoidance rules, catchers must give runners a clear path to reach home plate. The replay officials took an inordinately long time, but they got it right, ruling that Ruiz had indeed blocked the plate illegally.

So the run was given to the Reds, with DeSclafani scoring to put them up 3-2. Harang was able to avoid further damage, getting Jay Bruce to ground into a perfect 6-3 double play, but you could sense a huge momentum shift with the home plate play.

Phillies skipper Ryne Sandberg was asked about the play in his postgame presser: “It was a big momentum play. Freddy was very heads up, outstanding read on the slow ball, and it looked like it just caught Chooch a little off guard. It was the right call.

In the top of the 6th, Harang finally buried himself. He started by digging a hole, walking 2 of the first 3 batters in the inning. He also got two outs without allowing a run. But then Billy Hamilton came up with a huge 2-run single to center, pushing the Reds lead out to 5-2. Harang threw a wild pitch, allowing Hamilton to go to 3rd base, and the Reds speedster then scored on an RBI single by Phillips.

That was it for Harang, who was pulled for reliever Jake Diekman. Little did Diekman realize, it would be his final appearance in a Phillies uniform for a while. The lefty would pitch 1.1 shutout innings, followed by shutout frames from Justin De Fratus and Jeanmar Gomez. The relief work kept the Reds off the board, and left the Phillies offense a chance to come back.

In the bottom of the 8th, Ruiz led off with a single, moving to 2nd when pinch-hitter Cesar Hernandez drew a walk. That was finally the end for DeSclafani (4-4), who went 7 official innings and allowed 6 hits and 2 walks. He left with the 6-2 lead, but would allow 4 earned runs before it was all through.

Revere greeted new pitcher Tony Cingrani with an RBI double, cutting the lead to 6-3 with still nobody out. But Cingrani bore down and held firm. He struck out Jeff Francoeur for the first out. Utley then lifted a sac fly to left to score Hernandez and make it a 6-4 game, but there were two outs. Revere stole 3rd base, but Cingrani escaped the inning by striking out Ryan Howard.

The Reds took their 6-4 lead into the bottom of the 9th, and on came closer Aroldis Chapman, who had yielded the game-tying 3-run homer in the 9th inning the previous night. There would be no heroic repeat for the Phils offense. Chapman struck out Maikel Franco, Cody Asche, and Galvis, all swinging, in a dominating display. 

Following the game, Harang was pretty upset about the home plate play, and the collision rule in general, in comments reported by Jeff Neiburg with “Ultimately, it’s one of those rules that, who knows what’s going on with it? Nobody does. The guy’s out by 10 feet, and they claim that the catcher is blocking the plate. There’s so much gray area with that rule, it’s kind of crap. I don’t understand it. It’s something that’s got to be figured out.”

I can tell you this much. I was there. I watched the play live, saw it on the jumbo video board, and it was pretty clear early on that Chooch blocked the plate and the Phillies were going to lose on this one. My bet is, Chooch just did something instinctual that he has been doing for years, in the heat of the moment of the play forgetting the new rule. As Sandberg went on to say himself: “It is what it is. It’s prevented catchers getting run over, that’s for sure. As the rule stands, that was pretty blatant.”

Following the game, Sandberg also announced the Diekman had been demoted back to AAA Lehigh Valley in order to work on some mechanical issues. The 28-year old flame-throwing lefty Diekman was expected to be a key member of the Phillies late inning bullpen contingent this year, but has been awful. He was demoted with a 6.75 ERA, having allowed 26 hits and 17 walks in 21.1 innings.

The Phillies will now welcome in the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants for a weekend series at Citizens Bank Park that will end their 9-game homestand. The Giants are fresh off a visit to the White House in honor of their 2014 Series victory. Tim Lincecum (5-3) will take on Jerome Williams (3-5) in the opener.