PITTSBURGH — It was a good night for the Phillies, but not necessarily for Major League Baseball.
The Commissioner’s office is very concerned with the amount of time it is taking to play games these days. Steps to shorten times of game have been taken.
So you can bet MLB officials weren’t too keen on the Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates needing four hours, 30 minutes to play nine innings Friday night.
But the Phillies? They didn’t mind all that much. They came out of the marathon evening with a 17-5 victory and a share of first place in the National League East in a game that tied the record for longest nine-inning NL game ever (see first take).
“Really?” catcher Andrew Knapp said upon being made aware of that fact.
Knapp conceded the game did feel long.
“But thankfully we were hitting for most of it,” he said.
The Phillies did that. They hit and hit and hit. They also walked 10 times. Five of those walks turned into runs.
In all, the Phillies had 18 hits. They were 9 for 20 with runners in scoring position. Every starting position player had at least one hit. Scott Kingery had four of them. Knapp and Odubel Herrera both had three-run homers.
The Phillies have won five in a row and seven of their last eight. They are 11 games over .500. They are flying high, tied atop the NL East with Atlanta.
“I think we’re pretty comfortable with where we’re at,” Knapp said. “I don’t think anyone in this clubhouse doesn’t expect us to be there.”
Manager Gabe Kapler expects the Phils to be there. Before the game, he mentioned that the Phillies should be thinking about winning the division (see story).
“It’s definitely gratifying,” Kapler said of claiming a share of first place.
Kapler was more enthused about the way the Phillies got there. He and the front office are trying to build a lineup that sees pitches, grinds out at-bats, hits mistakes, takes walks and gets on base. There was a lot of that in this game. The Pirates had trouble throwing strikes and Phillies hitters remained patient and took advantage.
“It’s definitely gratifying to play Phillie-style baseball today, Phillie-style offense,” Kapler said. “We again continue to work counts and see a lot of pitches and grind down the opposition and really it’s becoming our calling card. I believe it’s a great way to win baseball games and I think our guys are starting to walk the walk more and more.”
Not everything went well in the game for the Phillies. Their defense was sloppy early in the game and they were burned by a defensive shift to open the top of the fourth and that led to a run.
Ultimately, however, the defense made two big plays when the game was still close. Rightfielder Nick Williams and third baseman Jesmuel Valentin each cut down a potential run at the plate to hold off the Pirates when they were still in the game.
Nick Pivetta did not pitch well, but he also did not get help from his defense. He lasted just 2 2/3 innings and gave up five hits and two walks. The bullpen gave up just two runs in 6 1/3 innings.
By the conclusion of the interminable game, it was difficult to even remember that Pivetta had pitched. He was one of 13 pitchers used by the two teams.
Despite the poor outing, Pivetta maintained his sense of humor when told that the length of the game had tied the National League record, previously set by Colorado and Arizona June 24, 2016.
“I set the tone pretty well tonight,” he deadpanned.
“But these guys, they didn't give up. And that's fun to watch. You sit in here, they scuffle the first couple innings and they come back. Some guys put great at-bats together and we won the game. I think that's the most important thing.”