Joe Girardi was still plenty steamed when he Zoomed it up with reporters after getting booted in the ninth inning of Thursday’s tight, 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citizens Bank Park.
It was hard to fault him for that. His team desperately needed a win to avoid being swept and falling out of first place in the NL East and a couple of missed calls nearly cost his club that victory.
“Those were huge pitches,” Girardi said. “And they were perfect pitches."
Home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez did not agree with Girardi. He called balls on a pair of full-count pitches from Phillies closer Ian Kennedy in the ninth inning. Both pitches were strikes according to Statcast and every eyeball that watched the game or the replay on TV.
The missed calls resulted in walks to Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger with one out and two outs, respectively.
Girardi climbed to the top step of the dugout after the walk to Bellinger, shouted at Marquez and reminded him he missed not one, but two pitches. Marquez ejected Girardi.
The Phillies skipper ran onto the field and gave Marquez an earful before heading off the field.
After the walk to Bellinger, Kennedy hit Will Smith with a pitch to load the bases.
With tension rising and the parched crowd of 26,122 on its feet and becoming cranky, Kennedy got Billy McKinney to hit a fly ball to left to end the game.
Girardi had big props for Kennedy after the game.
“I did learn one thing today,” he said. “Ian Kennedy can get a five-out save.”
Girardi did not have props for Marquez.
“They don’t have to swing for it to be a strike,” he said. “The one to Seager is a great pitch. The one to Bellinger was a great pitch.
“And what I don’t understand is I was walking down the stairs and that’s when he threw me out. I mean, come on, either throw me out when I’m yelling at you, but not when I’m walking down the stairs. I was done yelling. But he doesn’t respond, he doesn’t say anything, whether they’re a strike or not. He didn’t say one word and I don’t get it.
“That’s a five-out save. Good job, Ian.”
The entire bullpen did a good job. It delivered 4 2/3 scoreless innings in relief of Ranger Suarez.
Enyel De Los Santos threw a wild pitch that led to the Dodgers’ only run in the fifth inning. After that, Hector Neris, Archie Bradley and Kennedy locked it down.
Bradley pitched two innings. He has said he wants Girardi to ride him and the manager is obliging.
“I think about the job that Hector and Archie have done, they have really stepped up,” Girardi said. “Archie told me today that he had two innings for me. I said, ‘OK, great.’
“You love guys who come in and have that belief in themselves and let you know -- they’re all in. I give Archie a lot of credit for what he’s doing.”
Neris has allowed just three earned runs in his last 18 2/3 innings.
Bradley has given up one earned run over his last 18 2/3 innings.
“That’s the guy I need to be for this team,” Bradley said.
“And I think one guy that we need to talk about more is Héctor Neris,” Bradley added. “Héctor had a bunch of saves for us in the beginning of the year, had some bumps, he got taken out of his role and he’s worked on his craft. You look at the innings that guy has thrown over the past couple weeks. We aren’t in this position without Héctor and the innings he’s picked up for us.”
The Phillies will be no worse than tied for first place in the NL East when they open an important three-game series with the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night.
Had Thursday’s ninth inning gone differently – had those two blown strike calls blown up in their face – they could have been in third place in the tight division.
“You learn in these late-inning roles, you kind of live and die by those outcomes and by those calls,” Bradley said. “And when you don’t get that strike three call that you’ve earned sometimes, the only thing that you can do is forget it immediately. You have to lock back in on the next guy.
“Ian is a true professional.”