The Phillies gave the Fan Appreciation Day crowd at Citizens Bank Park a happy sendoff to a mostly miserable 2015 campaign, pulling away from the Miami Marlins for a 7-2 victory in the season finale.
In so doing, the Phils avoided the first 100-loss season for the franchise since 1961. However, the team still finished with the worst overall record in Major League Baseball at 63-99, earning the top pick in the 2016 MLB Amateur Draft for the first time since 1998.
A big reason for this victory was a strong outing from David Buchanan, who turned in perhaps the best of 15 starts that the 26-year old righty made this season. Buchanan went 6.2 innings, allowing one earned run on 6 hits and a walk. He struck out a season-high 7 batters, and threw 60 strikes in his 97 pitches.
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Despite the Quality Start, he wasn’t able to earn a win in this one, leaving with the score knotted at 2-2 in the 7th inning. The Fish had jumped him for solo runs in the 1st and 3rd innings to take an early 2-0 lead, the first thanks to an error by Jeff Francoeur, the second on a solo homer from Dee Gordon, his 4th of the season.
Gordon went 3-4 on the afternoon, pulling past Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals to win his first-ever National League batting crown with a .333 average.
The Phils tied it with a pair off Marlins’ starter Adam Conley. In the home 4th, Andres Blanco doubled to score Maikel Franco, who had singled earlier in the frame. In the bottom of the 5th, Aaron Altherr brought home Buchanan to tie it up.
The bottom of the 7th would prove the tie-breaking and decisive frame in this contest. Andre Rienzo came on in relief of Conley, and promptly broke a baseball cardinal rule by walking leadoff man Odubel Herrera. When Cameron Rupp followed with a ground-rule double, the Fightin’ Phils were in business.
Oct 4, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA;
Miami Marlins right fielder Ichiro (51) throws a pitch during the eighth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies defeated the Marlins, 7-2.
(Photo Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports)
Cody Asche was intentionally walked as a pinch-hitter, setting up the force at any base. But then Rienzo walked Freddy Galvis on four pitches to force in the go-ahead run. Altherr then delivered the game’s big blow, tripling to center field, clearing the bases and pushing the Phillies’ lead out to 6-2.
The Phils got a final run in the home 8th when the Marlins decided to have a little fun, sending out future Baseball Hall of Famer Ichiro Suzuki to pitch for the first time in MLB in his storied career.
Herrera led off with the 30th double of his rookie season against the Japanese righty, who flashed an assortment of pitches. One out later, Darnell Sweeney doubled to bring home ‘El Torito’, and the final 7-2 score was made.
All that was left was for the Phils to nail it down, and manager Pete Mackanin gave the honors to Ken Giles, who had blown a Save opportunity his last time out. Giles was money this time around, striking out his final batter swinging to put a capper on an outstanding first go-around in the team’s closer role.
The Phillies honored the fans with some classy gifts as they left the field. It began with bench coach and longtime franchise fan favorite Larry Bowa tossing his cap and some balls into the stands. Francoeur then tossed his jersey, and a number of players followed suit, including the final two 2008 holdover heroes, Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz.
The Phils now enter an off-season that promises far more building than tearing down. New club president Andy MacPhail will hire a GM to help him sort through the talent both on-hand already, and available via trade and free agency.
Together they will begin the process of bringing more talent to the Major League team, hoping to avoid a repeat at the bottom of the standings in the 2016 season and, more importantly, begin putting together the pieces to the next contending Phillies team.
Stay with us here at TBOH, at the website and on both Twitter (@FS_TBOH) and Facebook, throughout the off-season. We’ll be providing all the important Phillies news that comes up throughout the Fall and Winter. We’ll also be providing some history pieces, doing our own analysis of the past season, and begin looking forward to a brighter future.