Thursday, December 7 2023

Phillies’ bullpen hangs on vs. Padres in a game that seemed to be in hand originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Phillies led by seven runs at one point Monday night. It sure didn’t feel like it by the end of the game with tense inning after tense inning for a bullpen that worked its way in and out of jams from the sixth on.

Rob Thomson went to Craig Kimbrel in the eighth inning with the Phillies up two and San Diego’s formidable top-of-the-order due up. At that point, it was the real save situation. Fernando Tatis Jr. and Juan Soto walked with one out and stole their way to second and third. Kimbrel struck out Manny Machado (0-for-13 lifetime) and induced an inning-ending 3-1 grounder from Bogaerts. The Phillies were aided a bit by the baseball gods when the ball hit the third base umpire on the double steal. If it didn’t, it may have trickled all the way to the wall and tied the game.

Jose Alvarado‘s ninth was just as stressful but he also stranded a pair of runners to close out the 9-7 win, striking out Ha-Seong Kim swinging after falling behind in the count.

The Phillies breathed a sigh of relief two hours after the game seemed to be in hand. They’re 76-61 with 25 games left, leading the Cubs by 2½ for the top National League wild-card spot. The other four teams in the mix — the Diamondbacks, Reds, Giants and Marlins — all trail the Phils by at least 5½ games.

One through nine, it was an early offensive onslaught by the Phillies. They chased 43-year-old lefty Rich Hill after four outs, reaching base nine times against him with seven hits, including two doubles and two homers. By the fourth inning, every Phillie had reached base and six different players had scored.

Alec Bohm cleared the bases with a double in the top of the first. Edmundo Sosa and Trea Turner homered in the second to plate three more. Cristian Pache and Sosa had extra-base hits to produce two more runs in the third.

Turner is crushing everything he’s seeing. He owns the longest hitting streak in the majors at 15 games and has homered seven times in the last seven. He’s up to .262 on the season with a .761 OPS that is now right in line with Nick Castellanos, Bohm, Bryson Stott and J.T. Realmuto. After alllllll that in the first four months, Turner is probably going to end up with better-than-league-average numbers.

Schwarber hit his 40th homer and walked three more times. He has 109 walks on the season, 23 more than his prior career high. The .342 on-base percentage is the third-best of his career in a full season despite a .193 batting average.

Stott had a bounce-back game after going three straight without reaching base for the first time in 2023. He went 4-for-5 and is back up to .294.

Taijuan Walker started and, again, was not sharp. He was credited with the win to improve to 15-5 with a 4.15 ERA, but he gave up four runs in five innings on 103 pitches. He’s gone four straight starts without completing six innings. He’s walked 13 batters in his last 20⅔ innings, too many for such a high-contact pitcher. The Phillies are hoping he can turn it around to provide a clear answer as to who starts Game 3 of a playoff series. That remains a question with four potential answers in Walker, Ranger Suarez, Michael Lorenzen and Cristopher Sanchez.

Gregory Soto, who is five appearances short of his career-high, gave up two runs in a shaky seventh inning. The Phillies’ bullpen has shown cracks of late but has also held on to games like Sunday’s and Monday’s. Alvarado hasn’t been nearly as on-point as he was before two bouts of elbow inflammation, though he rebounded from the loss in Milwaukee Friday night with scoreless innings in consecutive games.

There is reason to wonder if all the innings will catch up with these relievers in September, but the Phillies’ bullpen remains one of the stingier units in baseball. Jeff Hoffman was huge in picking up the final two outs of the seventh to clean up Soto’s mess. What might be the 2023 Phillies’ record without Hoffman, who has a 2.49 ERA in 43 appearances in a variety of leverage roles?

Lorenzen is on the hill Tuesday night at 9:40 ET, looking to make it two quality starts in a row. The Padres are going with right-hander Pedro Avila, more of a long man who has tends to pitch four innings per appearance.

Source: Yahoo Sports


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