Late hits by a slumping John Mayberry, Jr. and a scoreless three innings by the bullpen helped propel the Phillies to a 4-2 victory over the Braves in Atlanta tonight.
In a game in which Cole Hamels was only able to go six innings, leaving a tie ball game in his wake, the fate of the Phillies would be in the hands of their bullpen and their offense, and the two struggling units were up to the task.
Hamels Battles, Bullpen Slams The Door:
– Hamels was lacking his usual accuracy, and the Braves took advantage by working deep counts and forcing him into a high pitch count. All said and done, Hamels had thrown 108 pitches and worked seven three-ball counts through six. In that sixth inning, he worked himself into a one-out bases loaded jam–thanks to some shaky defense (more on that later) and a walk–with Juan Francisco at the plate, and a 2-1 lead. Hamels was able to get Francisco to sky one for a sacrifice fly, tying the game at two. He then retired Tyler Pastornicky to escape the inning without any further damage. It would be the end of Hamels’ night. To his credit, he was able to keep the Phils in the game even though he didn’t have his best stuff.
– Antonio Bastardo worked a 1-2-3 seventh inning. It was a good sign from Bastardo, as he’s struggled quite a bit since last September. He threw primarily fastballs tonight, and his velocity hovered around 92-93 MPH, up from the 90 MPH he was averaging earlier in the season.
Trading Defense For Offense:
– What’s more important to the Phillies right now, defense or hitting? Every time Charlie Manuel pencils Ty Wigginton’s name into a lineup, it becomes evident: Hitting. Remember that shaky defense I referred to earlier? That was directed at Wigginton. At the start of the sixth inning, Wigginton allowed a Freddie Freeman grounder to sneak by him into right field for a hit. Or at least that’s how it was ruled. But it was a ball Wiggy easily could’ve gotten to and could’ve been ruled an error. Freeman would come around to score later in the inning.
Wigginton’s glove is subpar, there’s no questioning it. But the way he’s been hitting lately, he needs to be in the lineup (he drove in two runs tonight’s game and has reached base in all sixteen of his starts). With the way this team has been searching for offense, you’ll take his errors for his production at the plate for as long as this hot streak lasts.
Mayberry Comes Through, Rollins Continues To Roll:
– With one out in the eighth inning, pinch hitter, John Mayberry Jr., would serve a one-out double down the right field line. The hit had to feel good for Mayberry, who had been hitting .204 with just 2 XBH before the at-bat. It sparked a 2-run inning for the Phils, including when Mayberry came around to score the first run on a wild pitch by Johnny Venters. Hunter Pence drove in Jimmy Rollins on a single later on in the inning, and the Phillies would go on to win it 4-2. Speaking of Rollins:
– Is J-Roll coming out of his slump? Rollins went 2-for-4 tonight and scored a run. He is now 6 for his last 15, with three runs, and two RBI. Small sample size? Sure. But his bat looks quicker and his swing more compact. If he can get going, it’d be a big shot in the arm for the offense.
– The Phillies have now beaten the Braves eight times in a row, dating back to July 9th of last year.
– With a loss by the Nationals, the Phillies are within 2.5 games of first place.
– Tomorrow, the Phils (will seek their second road series victory of the season) when they send Roy Halladay (3-2, 1.95) to the mound against Tommy Hanson (3-2, 3.00).
Thome To The DL?:
– Jim Thome has been dealing with a balky back since straining it sliding into second base on Saturday night, and now, after Thome was unavailable to play for the third straight game, leaving the team with a short bench once again, the Phillies are considering putting the first baseman on the DL. Charlie Manuel met with Ruben Amaro, Jr. and Scott Sheridan before Tuesday’s game, and he had this to say to reporters afterwards:”The longer sits there sometimes I think he needs to go hit. When you sit there and you’re not playing and not doing anything and you’re not getting at-bats when you are able to, it usually takes you a while to get going.” Reading between the lines of what Manuel says, he could be suggesting that it’d behoove the Phillies to DL Thome, giving him an opportunity to rest, and then get some at-bats in a rehab assignment. At the same time, the move would allow the Phillies to add a bat to the roster in Thome’s absence. Thome is just 2-for-18 this season, with ten strikeouts. He has looked nothing short of helpless at the plate. His status is something to keep an eye on over the next couple of days.