Ben Lively reels in his 1st big-league win, a much-needed one for Phillies

Ben Lively reels in his 1st big-league win, a much-needed one for Phillies


Ben Lively had to wait a tantalizingly long time to make his major-league debut.
He was called from Triple A briefly in April and did not pitch.
He came back for two games in early May and did not pitch.
Lively's time to shine finally arrived Saturday and he did just that.
He shined.
The 25-year-old right-hander, one of the early additions to the Phillies' rebuild, pitched seven innings of one-run ball and earned the victory in a 5-3 win over the San Francisco Giants at Citizens Bank Park (see Instant Replay).
Not a bad major-league debut.
"I can't even explain it," Lively said. "It's awesome."
Manager Pete Mackanin, shellshocked after watching his team lose 26 of its previous 32 games and his starting pitchers go more than six innings just 10 times in the first 52 games of the season, wanted to kiss Lively when it was over.
"Needless to say, Lively is my favorite pitcher," Mackanin cracked. "He did a heck of a good job. The thing that impressed me the most is he showed no fear. From the first pitch on, he pitched like he belonged here."

Lively came to the Phillies shortly after the team announced its rebuild after the 2014 season. The Phils acquired him from Cincinnati for Marlon Byrd. Lively won 18 games in the minors last year and six more this year before coming up from Triple A to replace struggling Zach Eflin.

The only run that Lively gave up Saturday came in the second inning and it might never have happened if third baseman Maikel Franco could have made the play on a Buster Posey ground ball that was ruled a hit. Posey eventually scored on a sacrifice fly after a balk and a hit batsman by Lively. Those were really the only two times that Lively looked like a rookie making his debut. Otherwise …
"He was cool, calm and collected," Mackanin said. "It was really fun watching him pitch. When he went back out for that last inning, I went up to him before the inning and I said, ‘Are you OK to go back out there?' He said, ‘Yeah, I’m good.’ "
Lively scattered four hits and walked three. He made his big-league debut, got his first big-league hit and pitching win all on the same day, but his first big-league strikeout will have to wait. He did not strike out a batter.
"I couldn’t even strike out my sister tonight," he said. "But, they were swinging, putting the ball on the ground, and if they were going to keep doing that, I’ll keep rolling with it.
"My fastball command and just getting ahead was the key."

The Phillies turned three double plays behind Lively.
After being shut out, 10-0, by the Giants Friday night, the Phillies' offense put up another string of zeroes through five innings. The drought ended with two outs in the sixth when Tommy Joseph jumped on a full-count changeup from Johnny Cueto and sent it over the wall in left to tie the game. The homer traveled 447 (longest of the season by a Phillie) and came off the bat at 111 mph.
An inning later, the Phillies put the first three men on base, went ahead on a hit by Freddy Galvis and took a commanding lead on a three-run double by Odubel Herrera.
Pat Neshek protected a four-run lead in the eighth — he's allowed just two runs in 20 1/3 innings — but Hector Neris struggled in the ninth and needed an assist from Jeanmar Gomez to nail down the win.
Lively's win.
"That was definitely exciting to see," Lively said of the Phillies' four-run seventh. "No matter what level you’re at, you always want to be winning ballgames. Winning is fun."
Lively's mother, Ginny, made the trip up from Pensacola, Florida, for her son's big-league debut. His sister and grandmother were also on hand.
Lively's dad, Ed, could not make the trip. He runs a charter fishing boat service back on the Gulf Coast and, well, Saturdays are pretty busy.
"My dad has to go catch fish," the pitcher said.
Ed Lively's boat was back at the marina by first pitch and he got to watch the game on television.
So he saw his son reel in his first big-league win.

10 years ago today: Unheralded Ryan Madson key to Phillies' World Series run

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10 years ago today: Unheralded Ryan Madson key to Phillies' World Series run

Ten years ago this month, the Phillies won their second World Series title in franchise history. Over the next few weeks, Jim Salisbury will look back at the team's run through the NLCS and World Series.

Baseball is an everyday game of rhythm and momentum and when a team is riding a good wave the last thing it wants is a day off. The Phillies got six of them between their NLCS clincher in Los Angeles and Game 1 of the World Series in St. Petersburg.

The Tampa Bay Rays had advanced to the World Series by beating the favored Boston Red Sox in the ALCS and they were a majors-best 57-24 at home.

So heading into Tropicana Field, the Phillies needed a quick start for a lot of reasons, mostly to knock off any rust that had accumulated after a weeklong layoff. They got it from two of the offensive forces of their team. Jayson Werth drew a one-out walk against Scott Kazmir in the first inning and Chase Utley followed with a two-run homer to give the Phillies the quick lead they needed. The Phils manufactured a run in the fourth to go up, 3-0, and pitching and defense made it all stand up for a 3-2 win. (The pitching and defense had to be good because Phillies' hitters were 0 for 13 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11 men.)

The starting pitching matchup featured two exciting, young lefties. Kazmir had been the 15th overall pick in the 2002 draft. Cole Hamels was the 17th overall pick. Hamels continued his breakout month with seven innings of two-run ball to improve to 4-0 in that postseason. In 29 innings, he'd struck out 27 and allowed just five runs to that point.

Hamels got some assists in this one. Manager Charlie Manuel liked to use slick-fielding Pedro Feliz at third base behind lefties Hamels and Jamie Moyer. The move paid off when Feliz made a big play to start a clutch 5-4-3 double play to get Hamels out of a bases-loaded jam in the third.

Brad Lidge wrapped it up with his sixth save of the postseason but before that Ryan Madson logged a scoreless eighth inning. To that point in the postseason, he'd pitched 10 innings and given up just one run.

Late in the season, Madson became a demon out of the bullpen for 2008 Phillies. Something clicked for him. His shoulder, which had bothered him a year earlier, got healthy and he became more serious about his craft. He gained confidence and attacked hitters with a high-90s fastball and a knee-buckling changeup. So many things came together for that championship team. Madson's emergence might have been overshadowed at times, but it was huge.

"Ryan's confidence is like a closer's right now," Lidge said after the Game 1 win. "He's learned how to dominate guys."

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Previously in this series

Reds name former Phillies third baseman David Bell manager

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Reds name former Phillies third baseman David Bell manager

A former Phillies third baseman has landed his first MLB managing job in Cincinnati, and no, it's not Scott Rolen.

The Reds on Sunday morning named David Bell their next manager and will introduce the former Phillie on Monday afternoon. It's a three-year contract with a club option for a fourth.

Bell was the Giants' vice president of player development in 2018 and previously managed the Reds' minor-league system. He managed Cincinnati's Double A affiliate, the Carolina Mudcats, from 2009-11 and then its Triple Affiliate, the Louisville Bats, in 2011. Bell, a Cincinnati native, was reportedly up for the  Blue Jays and Rangers manager jobs.

Phillies fans will remember Bell from his four-year, $17 million contract he signed with the team in the winter of 2002. Bell never duplicated the success he had with San Francisco here. He had an abysmal first season here, hitting just .195 in 85 games. He bounced back the next year for a respectable .291/.363/.458 slash line with 18 homers and 77 RBIs, but that was as good as it got.

The Phillies were able to move on from Bell in 2006, trading the third baseman to the Brewers.

But now the 46-year-old has worked his way up the coaching ranks and has a chance to manage the team he grew up rooting for. That doesn't happen too often.

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