Ruben Amaro publicly challenged his players when he decreed this 10-game homestand the tipping point of the 2013 season. So far so good through four games, as the Phillies topped the Nationals on Monday night, 3-2, to climb within 2.5 games of second place Washington.
John Lannan (2-3, 4.26 ERA) threw eight innings of shutout ball and Ben Revere fueled the offense with his bat and his legs, tallying three hits, a steal and scoring two of the three Phillies runs. Jimmy Rollins also had a good night, following two Revere hits with singles of his own in innings that led to runs. Jonathan Papelbon navigated through a rocky ninth – two hits, a few loud outs – to capture his 19th save of the season.
The Phillies are now 4-3 against the Nationals this year and have three more against them this week at Citizens Bank Park.
LANNAN DOMINANT AGAINST FORMER MATES
– Lannan was magnificent in his second outing against his former team. The lefthander retired the side in order in four of his eight frames, allowing only four hits and a pair of walks. He induced 12 groundouts in eight innings. Monday night was unequivocally Lannan’s best start as a member of the Phillies. He needed only 109 pitches to get through eight, the first time he’s hit triple digits in 24 outings dating back to 2011. He lowered his ERA to a respectable 4.26 on the season.
– It isn’t out of the ordinary for Lannan to pile up the goose eggs this season, but as ESPN’s Rick Sutcliffe pointed out in the fourth, the lefty has been the victim of big innings in most of his bad outings. In his three losses, Lannan has surrendered innings of three, four and five runs. He was able to avoid that on Monday night – or really anything close to it – and was rewarded with his second win of the season.
REVERE, PHILS’ O DOES ENOUGH TO WIN
– For the second straight game, the Phillies offense put a pair of runs on the board in the first inning. Revere, who entered the night hitting .337 since an underwhelming April, singled to lead off the first and eventually stole third before scoring on a Domonic Brown single. A few batters later, Darin Ruf put together a quality at-bat with the bases loaded, drawing a walk and collecting his first RBI of 2013.
– Nats starter Dan Haren settled in a bit after a rocky first, holding the Phils at bay before he was pulled after the fifth inning. Revere was back at it in the sixth – this time off Fernando Abad – slapping a double down the leftfield line and scoring on a two-out Rollins single.
RUF WATCH, DAY THREE
– With Ryan Howard now out 6-8 weeks, the Phillies will be forced to find out what they have in Ruf. While he won’t be playing much outfield, they should be able to get some type of extended read on how his bat will play at the major league level. On Monday night, Ruf looked good in two at-bats and bad in two others. He showed impressive patience in his first at-bat and singled in his fourth, but then struck out twice in between on a pair of similar Haren sliders.
DID YOU NOTICE?
– In the first inning, ESPN’s Dave O’Brien noted that Ruf’s at-bat against Haren, a walk that forced in a run, involved a more professional approach than the previous at-bat of Delmon Young. Uh, yeah… welcome to life as a 2013 Phillies fan. We see it. It took O’Brien about five minutes to see it. When will the Phillies see it? Young’s been productive of late, but the guy is just not a very good hitter.
– With three hits on the night, Revere’s batting average is exactly .300. At .300/.335/.350, the centerfielder’s slash line is eerily similar to his .294/.333/.342 line from a year ago. His play since April has been a silver lining in what’s been a maddening season. Revere is under team control through 2017, which makes him quite valuable on a roster that currently has eight guys making over $10 million this year.
– Speaking of former Twins centerfielders, Denard Span went 0-for-4 on Monday for the Nats. With a similar line to Revere – .264/.319/.359 to be exact – Span is essentially a much older (29 vs. 25), much more expensive ($4.75MM vs. $515K) version of the same player. I’m not the guy’s biggest fan, but score one for RAJ on that one.
– Carlos Ruiz made a flawless throw to second base to nail a stealing Bryce Harper in the fourth inning. Harper got a great jump on Lannan, but Ruiz unleashed a laser that landed in the perfect spot to beat Harper.