Phillies Tame Tigers to Take Finale
By Matt Veasey
The Philadelphia Phillies defeated the host Detroit Tigers in the afternoon finale of a three game series at Comerica Park.
This was the perfect opportunity for the Phillies, who many continue to view as overachieving in this 2016 season, to fold up the tent and begin a slide down the MLB standings.
The club had dropped the first two games of this series at Comerica Park, and faced a coming weekend visit to the home of baseball’s best team, the Chicago Cubs.
But rather than feel sorry for themselves, tuck their tails between their legs, and allow the host Tigers to devour them, the Phillies came out swinging and posted a heartening 8-5 win over host Detroit.
With the win, the Phils avoided losing three consecutive games for the first time since beginning the season with four straight defeats. It was also just the 5th time in the club’s first 47 game that they have scored at least six runs.
Aaron Nola drew the less-than-enviable starting pitching assignment against the powerful and hot hosts, and he did a nice overall job of managing the game.
Nola (4-3) allowed four earned runs on seven hits over six innings, with six strikeouts and one walk. He threw 92 pitches in the outing, 60 of those for strikes.
Some daring base running helped provide him with an early 2-0 lead. In the top of the 2nd, Ryan Howard led off with a single and rolled around to 3rd on a one-out base hit by Andres Blanco.
Then with two outs, Peter Bourjos grounded an RBI single to right field, scoring Howard with the game’s first run and moving Blanco to third base.
Blanco then provided the base running thrills, swiping home on the back-end of a double-steal with Bourjos to make it a 2-0 lead.
The Tigers got one back when Jose Iglesias singled to score Mike Aviles, who had led off the bottom of the 3rd against Nola with a double.
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In the top of the 4th, Odubel Herrera drove his 5th home run of the season out to right field, a three-run shot with two outs that appeared to give Nola a comfortable 5-1 lead.
The Tigers clawed back into the game, however, getting to Nola for five singles in the bottom of the 5th and scoring three runs to cut the Phillies lead down to 5-4.
In the top of the 7th, Bourjos drove his first home run in a Phillies uniform out to left-center, a solo shot that also drove Detroit starter Anibal Sanchez out of the game.
Sanchez (3-6) lasted the six official innings, allowing three earned runs and six runs in total. The Phillies produced eight hits off the right-hander, who struck out five and walked one.
Later in the inning, one-out singles by Freddy Galvis and Maikel Franco were followed by a Tommy Joseph sac fly, and the Phils had a 7-4 lead.
In the bottom of the 7th, Cesar Hernandez replaced Franco at 3rd base for the Phillies. It was later announced that Franco had sprained his ankle while running the bases in the top of the frame.
When Miguel Cabrera grounded a one-out RBI single, the Tigers had whittled the lead back down to 7-5.
The Phillies put a final run on the board in the top of the 8th when Cameron Rupp and Blanco led off with back-to-back doubles off Detroit reliever Alex Wilson, upping the visitors lead to 8-5.
Hector Neris and Jeanmar Gomez came on to shut down the Tigers in the 8th and 9th respectively, with Gomez registering his 17th Save of the season.
“For me, it was a must-win,” said Phils’ manager Pete Mackanin per MLB.com writers. “We’ve lost four out of five, and I felt like we needed to come out of here with a win. And when we scored early, I felt pretty good. They answered back, but we went ahead again. So it was nice to see. The guys battled, and to me, it looked like they played like we had to win this game.”
Also following the game, Franco said that he believes he will be fine for the weekend series beginning on Friday after icing his sprained ankle down for a couple of days. However, such an injury can frequently take a week or so, even when mild. His status remains questionable for now.
Following a day off on Thursday, the Phillies will be at Wrigley Field over the weekend to take on the Chicago Cubs. Survive the Cubbies, and the club will return home for a 10-game home stand leading into early June.