From the Ballpark: Phillies Return Indians Favor in 6-2 Win
PHILADELPHIA—Two weeks ago to the day, the Phillies performance hit its basement level. Tonight, in a 6-2 win at Citizens Bank Park, it scraped its ceiling.
The opponent, the Cleveland Indians, was the same. The difference was everything else. Good thing. They needed it.
For the first time in three tries against the Tribe this year, a Phillies starter kept it close enough for the offense to even compete. The man to succeed where Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay had failed: 22-year-old rookie right-hander Jonathan Pettibone, who held one of the hottest offenses in baseball to two earned off six baserunners in 6 2/3 innings.
Halladay and Lee were tagged for a combined 12 earned in 9 2/3 innings.
"I'd say for the first time he's in the major leagues, I think he's doing a tremendous job," Charlie Manuel said.
Pettibone, who's 3-0 with a 3.41 ERA in five starts in place of the injured John Lannan, hit some bumps early, allowing men to reach second and third in back-to-back frames.
A Carlos Santana double put Nick Swisher on third with no outs in the second. The next batter, Michael Brantley, smeared an 0-2 pitch for a two-run single to put the Indians ahead 2-1.
In the third, Pettibone freebie’d the bases loaded by walking Jason Kipnis and plunking Swisher and Santana in back-to-back at-bats, and survived a could’ve-been fair call on a Mark Reynolds pop up behind first base that landed atop the line. Pettibone popped up Reynolds again on the next pitch to escape.
"That was big," Pettibone said. "Escaping with no runs, especially after that second inning. You don't want to dig too big a hole that early in the game. Getting out of that inning, I was able to build off that for the rest of the game."
After a quick mechanical adjustment -- Pettibone said he was flying open too often during his delivery and needed to focus on staying on line -- he retired 11 of his next 13 batters to wrap his night.
Then came Antonio Bastardo, Justin De Fratus, Jeremy Horst and Jonathan Papelbon.
After a quick out to close the seventh, Bastardo surrendered a standup triple and walk before the second out in the eighth. De Fratus popped up Reynolds on two pitches. Jeremy Horst fanned Brantley on four. Jonathan Papelbon worked a 1-2-3 ninth on six pitches total, for a 2 1/3 scoreless innings between them.
Somewhere, Tony La Russa smiled in approval of the switchery.
"That's something that we kinda went by, the reports," Manuel said on how he aligned his bullpen. "We felt like that was the best way to go."
The Phillies lineup was as potent tonight as it’s been all year. They’ve scored this much before. But few times through 40 games had they managed to get ahead, answer and put a team away all in the same game – and did it all against a lefty in Indians starter Scott Kazmir.
Made Manuel look pretty smart, too. The manager opted to rest Chase Utley for the first time in 13 days, even though his Phillies were off yesterday and Thursday, starting Kevin Frandsen at second. He also swapped Ben Revere for John Mayberry Jr. in center.
Frandsen and Domonic Brown rocketed solo shots in the first and sixth innings. It’s now been 16 homers in a row for the Phillies of the one-run variety.
Mayberry zip-lined a two-run double to put the Phillies back on top in the fourth, 3-2.
Two more runs of insurance came in the eighth on RBIs from Mayberry and Freddy Galvis, who was inserted off the bench in that very spot for his glove. Galvis turned a double play in the ninth. But his bat showed up, too.
"I'm always trying to get him more playing time," Manuel said Galvis. "That's definitely one of my thoughts and I think about it every day. Freddy's got a chance to be a real very special player."
Brown, Ruiz and Mayberry, tonight's 6-8 hitters, went 6 for 11 with a walk, four RBI and four runs scored.
"We're getting guys to come up big," Frandsen said. "I feel like we've been waiting for that big hit instead of making it happen."
Four seems to be the Phillies magic number. Plate one more than three, and they’re undefeated in their last nine and 14-4 on the year. Score three or fewer, and they’re 5-17 overall.
This, a complete game, would work for anybody.
If only they could conjure it on command.