Brown Brings Hot Streak Home For 4-3 Win Over Red Sox
PHILADLEPHIA—Domonic Brown sees his recent success through a broad lens, one of substance, of matters bigger than wins and losses, swings and misses.
After crushing two solo shots into the Citizens Bank Park stands in a 4-3 win over the Red Sox tonight, Brown fit his development as a player into his maturation as a man. Both were impressive.
“It’s making me a better man on and off the field, going back down to the minor leagues, seeing how life really is,” Brown said. “It’s good to be having some success, but I’m trying to keep it going.”
From a 25-year-old, that kind of depth is special and makes for a helluva story.
Though the surface is what’s making this Phillies season all of a sudden relevant.
Brown’s now roped five home runs in as many games, and one in each of his last three.
His 13 home runs this year lead the team, and fall just one behind Atlanta’s Justin Upton.
His 10 in May rank second in baseball to only reigning AL MVP Miguel Cabrera.
His five as a lefty off a lefty tie Baltimore’s Chris Davis for best in the bigs.
This, for a guy who some figured a soon-to-be flame-out.
"He's been playing free," said Howard. "He's going out there and swinging. I'm not surprised by (his success). I know a lot of people are. I'm not at all."
Instead, the fire surrounding Brown burns infectious.
The Phillies have won 10 of 16 games since May 11, and Brown over the span has hit .296 with seven homers and 17 RBI. In the meantime, the rest of the lineup, once hapless, is now glowing with life.
Ryan Howard and Erik Kratz each belted solo shots tonight.
Howard’s was his first since May 7. He’s hitting .314 in 35 at-bats in his last eight games.
Kratz’s was his fourth in nine games. He’s hitting .333 in 27 at-bats over the span.
Better, Brown’s already begun adapting as pitchers do the same to him. It’s a perpetual arm’s race, major-league hitting and pitching is, and so far, Brown is winning.
It was on display tonight. His first at-bat against Boston starter John Lackey, who's streaking himself, lasted just three pitches. Brown poked a dribbler for a could've-been double play.
To Brown, that demanded a change in strategy.
“I told myself I would try not to do it the rest of the at-bats the whole night,” said Brown.
Then came home run No. 1 of 2 in the fourth. He added another in the eighth, a go-ahead belt off tough left-handed Boston reliever Koji Uehara, who entered with a 1.83 ERA through 21 appearances this season.
If there was any question before, when Jonathan Papelbon surrendered a run a three-baserunner ninth, it became clear: Brown’s singular effort was the difference.
How’d he do it?
“He took a couple of pitches, got real selective, and the guy came to him,” Manuel said.
If only it were that easy for the rest of the Phillies.
Yet that’s how it’s looked for Brown lately, and the Phillies need more. Tomorrow offers another chance to touch .500 for the first time since Apr. 14, a psychological edge they’ve hardly had the chance to harness.
With word mid-game from GM Ruben Amaro that Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz will likely return in mid-June, making for a mere six weeks before the trade deadline, the more Brown can carry the team, the better.
Kyle Kendrick (5-3, 3.27 ERA) recovered from two rocky starts, surrendering only two in six innings after allowing nine in his most recent 11.
After serving a leadoff shot to right fielder Daniel Nava in the sixth, Kendrick found himself in further trouble, but pitched through it.
With men on first and second and two outs, he put one left fielder Mike Carp that grazed the inside corner of the strike zone. No call.
Kendrick was less than pleased.
“He was a little excited,” Howard said with a grin.
Kendrick on the next pitch forced Carp into his first GIDP of the season to end the inning.
The Phillies made life tougher than need be.
With one out and the bases loaded in the seventh, Howard and John Mayberry Jr. were each retired on three pitches, Howard via strikeout, Mayberry on a pop fly. Ben Revere had singled and swiped second, and Kevin Frandsen and Jimmy Rollins walked in back to back at-bats. The Phillies .172 on-base percentage with the bases loaded ranks third-worst in baseball.
That says nothing of the circus in the field tonight that included Brown (twice), Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Ben Revere. One error was charged. It could've been three.
But overcoming shortcomings is often life behind a hot bat like Brown's. Hence, its importance for these Phillies.
Said Manuel: “If you can hit, that erases a whole lot of mistakes.”