There is, as it turns out, rest for the weary. John Lannan beat the Phillies for the first time in 14 starts, as he and four relievers combined to hold the Phillies to a single unearned run, an effort good enough to win, thanks to some help on both sides of the ball by left fielder Laynce Nix.
Roy Oswalt allowed a run in the bottom of the first on a broken-bat blooper by Nationals leadoff man Roger Bernadina and an RBI single that Jayson Werth hit off his shoelaces and dribbled through the hole. Those two weak hits were part of a streak of 14 straight strikes by Oswalt to start the game. The Phillies got that run back in their next turn at bat, when, with Ryan Howard and Ben Francisco on, Carlos Ruiz hit what looked like a certain inning-ending double play ball to Nats third baseman Joey Cora, who booted the ball into left and allowed Howard to score. The irony, of course, is that the Nationals’ regular starter, the injured Ryan Zimmerman, is widely regarded as the best defensive third baseman currently working. The Phillies nearly added another run the next inning, but John Mayberry was thrown out at the plate trying to score from second with two outs on what amounted to a very deep infield single. They’d wind up needing that run later.
Oswalt’s luck didn’t change after the first inning: he allowed at least two baserunners in the next two innings, including a home run to Laynce Nix in the third. Nix came back to haunt the Phillies once more when, with two outs and the bases loaded in the top of the sixth, he made a spectacular catch on Domonic Brown‘s line drive, laying out for a would-be gapper on the dead run to end the inning. The leverage index on that play was 4.85, which made Nix’s catch not only remarkable in its form but in its impact on the game’s outcome.
Oswalt wound up only lasting five innings and 79 pitches, and while he did allow nine baserunners, his removal probably had more to do with Charlie Manuel’s desire to capitalize on a bases-loaded, two out situation than anything else.
From then on, the two bullpens took over–Lannan himself was pulled after 5 1/3 innings, 85 pitches, and the single unearned run–and brought the game to a swift and uneventful conclusion. Todd Coffey, Todd Coffey‘s man-boobs, and Doug Slaten closed out the aforementioned sixth inning for the Nats, Michael Stutes and Tyler Clippard pitched two scoreless innings each, Antonio Bastardo threw a scoreless eighth, and Drew Storen closed it out for the Nationals.
Some extraneous notes:
- When Lannan hit John Mayberry with a pitch in the third inning, it was the 10th time he’d hit a Phillie in his career, out of 23 total HBP. Lannan was the pitcher who broke Chase Utley‘s wrist in the second half of 2007.
- Mike Stutes put in two perfect innings, the longest outing of his career. Stutes had appeared in 14 consecutive games for an inning or less, tied for the 21st-longest such streak to start a career, according to Baseball Reference.
In the Phils’ next game, Cole Hamels faces Jeff Karstens in Pittsburgh on Friday. As it turns out, something like half of the Phillies Nation writing staff will be making the trip across the state to catch the weekend series. If you’re making the trip, safe travels, and we hope to see you there.