The Phillies began their final Interleague series of the season with a 7-5 defeat on Friday night to the host Boston Red Sox at historic Fenway Park. It also marks the next-to-last series against a non-NL East rival. The Phils will host the Cubs for that final non-divisional series next week.
The host Bosox broke open a close game with four runs in the bottom of the 7th inning, then held off a 2-out rally by the Fightins in the 9th to gain the victory in a matchup of last place eastern teams.
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Through the first half-dozen innings, Phillies rookie lefty Adam Morgan and Red Sox righty Joe Kelly battled fairly evenly. Morgan (5-5) allowed just 6 hits, striking out 6 and walking one batter, until the 7th. Kelly (9-6) would allow just 2 earned runs on 5 hits in ultimately gaining the victory.
Boston scored first in the 1st, with an RBI single by outstanding young shortstop Xander Bogaerts, highlighted prior to the series by our own Tyler DiSalle here at TBOH, scoring Mookie Betts for a 1-0 lead.
In the bottom of the 5th, an RBI double from Betts and a sac fly from AL All-Star Brock Holt pushed the hosts back on top by 3-2. That lead would hold into the bottom of the 7th, as the two starting pitchers dueled effectively.
In that 7th, Morgan retired the first batter, but then got into trouble. It started with a solo home run off the bat of the scorching hot Jackie Bradley Jr, who we featured here at TBOH during our series preview earlier on Friday. Morgan then walked Betts, and allowed a single to Holt, and that was the end of his night.
Jeanmar Gomez was brought on in relief, and over the last month that has not usually been a good thing for the Phils. In the last four weeks, Gomez has a 6.00 ERA and a .358 batting average against. He has allowed 24 hits in 15 innings over that stretch, with a 5/3 K:BB ratio.
This outing would prove more of the same. He retired the first batter that he faced, with a run scoring on the play charged to Morgan. But then David Ortiz drove an RBI double, Travis Shaw lined an RBI single, and Shaw scored on a comedy-of-errors fielding effort that resulted in an error charged to Darin Ruf.
All of that action accounted for the 4-spot that opened the Bosox lead to 7-2, and they carried that lead into the 9th. Jean Machi, who has taken over the closer duties in Boston due largely to injuries, recorded the first two outs, and appeared on his way to easily closing this one out.
But the Phils bats suddenly woke up. Following a single by shortstop Freddy Galvis, the 7th home run of the season off the bat of Odubel Herrera, a 2-run blast to right center, cut the deficit to 7-4.
Hernandez followed with a single, moved to 2nd on defensive indifference, and then scored on an RBI double by Aaron Altherr to make it a 7-5 game.
That brought Ryan Howard to the plate as the tying run. Red Sox interim skipper Torrey Lovullo had seen enough of Machi, and brought in lefty Robbie Ross to face Howard. Ross won the duel, striking out the Phils’ slugger swinging to seal the 7-5 win.
It was a 7th consecutive win for Kelly, a high-water mark for any pitcher in MLB this season. “I really say his slider, changeup and curveball have been plus-pitches,” said Boston catcher Ryan Hanigan, per MLB.com. “He’s obviously got the good fastball and his command’s been pretty good for the most part, but it’s those other three and the way he’s using them that’s the difference.”
The two divisional bottom dwellers will go at it again in a late afternoon tilt on Saturday with a 4:05pm start. The Phillies will send yet another rookie, Alec Asher, for his 2nd career start. For the Red Sox it will be lefty Wade Miley towing the rubber.