With nothing else to play for, the Phillies kept their hopes of a winning season alive when they rallied for a 5-4 win over the Miami Marlins in 15 innings on Friday night.
The Phils won it on a bases-loaded error by shortstop Miguel Rojas on a ground ball by Adam Haseley. Rojas was trying to start a double play at the plate, but lost the handle on the ball.
Both bullpens were excellent. Seven Phillies relievers combined on 11 walk-free scoreless innings. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first time the Phillies had done that since 1893, when the current mound distance from home plate was established.
The win snapped a six-game losing streak.
The victory gave the Phils an 80-80 record with two games to play. They must win them both to finish with a winning record for the first time since 2011.
The game ended at 12:15 a.m.
Manager Gabe Kapler loves to play for the big inning. That often results in his passing on a chance to move a runner with a sacrifice bunt and taking his chance on a hitter driving the ball in the gap without giving up an out.
Sean Rodriguez bunted after Cesar Hernandez led off the bottom of the fifth with a double. Bryce Harper quickly delivered Hernandez from third with the tying run.
After the game, Kapler said Rodriguez put down the sacrifice bunt on his own.
“He’s a baseball player,” Kapler said.
In the 15th, Andrew Knapp got down a sacrifice bunt after failing to do so two innings earlier.
Vince Velasquez allowed seven hits and four runs over four innings in his final start of the season.
The enigmatic right-hander had another one of those seasons. He tantalized with his talent. He frustrated with his inconsistency.
Velasquez pitched 117 1/3 innings and had a 4.90 ERA. He more often than not struggled to get through the middle innings, but he racked up 130 strikeouts.
It will be interesting to see what happens with Velasquez this winter. As a second-year arbitration player, he won’t be overly expensive and he still has a tremendous arm so it’s likely he returns unless he is used in a trade. But Velasquez’ inconsistency makes it difficult to count on him in the rotation. His future still might still be in the bullpen. Either way, he will turn 28 in June. It’s way past time for him to put it together.
Excellent bullpen work
The Phillies’ bullpen came up huge with 11 scoreless innings, three each by Cole Irvin and Ranger Suarez.
Irvin has quietly strung together a very nice month. In eight September appearances, he has given up just one run in 12 1/3 innings.
Scott Kingery started at shortstop but left the game with blurry vision in the fifth inning. After the game, Kingery did not seem alarmed, but he said he might need to get his eyes checked. It was not immediately clear if he would play Saturday night.
Rodriguez finished at shortstop and made a contribution with his sacrifice bunt in the fifth.
It was interesting. He tripled home a run in the first inning, doubled in the third and drove in the tying run with a sacrifice fly in the fifth. In between, he airmailed a cutoff man on a play that cost the Phillies a run in the third inning.
Harper is up to a career-high 111 RBIs. He has 71 extra-base hits.
Zach Eflin (9-13, 4.16) makes his final start of the season Saturday night. He will pitch against Miami lefty Caleb Smith (10-10, 4.31).
The Phillies will use a cast of relievers to get through Sunday’s season finale.
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