The Philadelphia Phillies dropped the opener of an Interleague series to the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on Monday night.
If there was one thing that the low-scoring Phillies could not afford to do in their second Interleague series of the 2016 season, it was get into a slugfest with the powerful Detroit Tigers.
Unfortunately for the Fightin’ Phils, that is basically what developed last night in the opener of a three game series between the two teams at Comerica Park.
The two clubs combined for six home runs on the night, but four of those came off the bats of Detroit players as the hosts held on for a narrow 5-4 victory.
Velasquez allowed three earned runs on nine hits over just four innings in which he struck out two and walked two batters. Velasquez needed 95 pitches to get into the 5th inning, but he was unable to get through that frame.
Heading to that home 5th, the Phils had built an early 3-1 lead against Tigers starter Mike Pelfrey. They got on the board first in the top of the 3rd when Tyler Goeddel led off with a single, moved to 2nd on a ground out, and scored on an RBI single off the bat of Odubel Herrera.
Detroit evened it up with two outs in their half of the 3rd when Cabrera bombed the first of his two homers. But in the top of the 4th, Maikel Franco led off with his 8th home run to put the Phillies back on top at 2-1.
In the top of the 5th, the hot Goeddel again led off with a single. Herrera then lined a one out single to center, with Goeddel scampering around to 3rd base. He would score when Cesar Hernandez, celebrating his own 26th birthday, would follow with a sac fly to make it 3-1.
Velasquez then entered the bottom of the 5th with that lead, hoping to get through one more inning before turning the lead and the game over to the bullpen.
Instead, J.D. Martinez and Cabrera greeted the right-hander with back-to-back longballs to start the inning, tying the game and driving Velasquez to the showers.
With one out in the top of the 6th, the Phillies again got the game even thanks to their own power surge, the 2nd home run of the season from rookie 1st baseman Tommy Joseph.
In the top of the 7th with the game even at 4-4, Peter Bourjos reached on a fielding error by Castellanos. A wild pitch by Detroit reliever Justin Wilson then moved Bourjos over to 2nd base, in scoring position as the go-ahead run with nobody out.
The next batter, Herrera, dribbled an easy grounder back at Wilson. Frustrated at his inability to bring home the run, Herrera shut it down halfway down the 1st base line, half-heartedly jogging out the rest of his way to the bag.
The lack of hustle would have been obvious in any event. However, it would become much more pivotal when Wilson double-clutched the ball as he went to throw Herrera out.
Had the Phillies’ center fielder been running hard all the way, he likely would have beaten out the play, and the Phils would have had runners at 1st and 2nd with nobody out.
Instead, there was one out. Ryan Howard, who served as the DH in this game and went 0-4 with two strike outs, and Mackanin each approached Odubel in the dugout to speak with him about the lack of hustle. Mackanin would pull him from the game.
“He didn’t run,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said per MLB.com’s Kyle Beery. “One of the ingredients to our success, to this point, is the fact that these guys play with energy, they play hard. We’re training them, basically, to play the game the right way, and not running is not the right way.”
Herrera was sent the message by the skipper due to similar incidents noticed by Mackanin in the past. “I’ve seen it in the past, and it’s been trickling in, and I just didn’t like it, and I just made the decision,” the manager said per Beery.
Hernandez struck out, and then after an intentional walk to Franco, Howard also struck out to end the threat.
The Tigers would then take the lead when Cabrera ripped a one-out double off Murray, and came around to score on an RBI single from Victor Martinez.