SAN DIEGO — Andrew McCutchen’s injury means the Phillies have a new leftfielder.
Maikel Franco’s lengthy slump means the Phillies might have a new third baseman.
The Phillies got several important contributions in snapping a five-game losing streak with a 9-6 win over the San Diego Padres on Tuesday night (see observations).
None were more important than what they got from Jay Bruce and Scott Kingery.
Bruce, who was acquired in a trade with Seattle on Sunday and thrust into the starting leftfielder’s role when McCutchen went down with a season-ending knee injury on Monday, clubbed two homers, one of which was a grand slam, and drove in six runs.
Kingery, who started his second straight game at third base in place of Franco, belted an RBI double and a booming homer to left.
It was all part of a 13-hit attack for the Phillies, who had seven extra-base hits, as many as they had in the previous four games on the trip, all losses. The nine runs were one more than they had in the previous four games.
The win enabled the Phils to stay a half-game up on second-place Atlanta in the NL East.
“It was a pretty big win for us,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “In a lot of ways, we played with Andrew out there. We kind of won one for him.”
Kapler said Bruce was the story of the game. In addition to his two homers, he roped a double. He’s going to be very important to this club. He was going to be important to the club when the Phillies acquired him. With McCutchen down, his importance only rises.
“The news was devastating about someone I have so much respect for as a player,” Bruce said of McCutchen. “I’ve gotten to know him over the years and we came up playing together. I know how much he meant to this team and I’m definitely not coming to try to replace Andrew McCutchen. What he does and has done in his career speaks for itself. He’s a good player. I just wish a speedy recovery for him and hope he’s ready as soon as possible. Like I said, my mindset doesn’t change. I just want to play and play well and help this team win a championship.”
If Bruce was the story of the game, there were some important subplots. Starting pitcher Jerad Eickhoff played the stopper’s role with six innings of three-run ball. He was noticeably aggressive in delivering his pitches after being hit hard in his previous four starts.
“Waking up today, I wanted to be that guy that stops the bleeding,” said Eickhoff, referring to the Phils’ five-game skid.
Kingery’s role in the game was huge. In addition to swinging the bat well, he made several nice plays at third base, including at least one eye-popper. He is hitting .333 with nine doubles, four homers and 12 RBIs in 87 at-bats.
Franco came off the bench with a pinch-hit homer but has struggled mightily since a hot start. He entered the game hitting .150 (15 for 100) with a .206 on-base percentage in his previous 30 games.
Kingery had been helping in center field, but the Phils want to take a look at Adam Haseley there, and injured Roman Quinn could be back in a couple of weeks.
The door seems wide open for Kingery to put a lockdown on the third base job.
“I don't think that we have to make any declarations about that right now,” Kapler said. “I will say that he's playing a good third base right now. He'll continue to get the opportunity to play some third base for us.”
Kingery struggled as a rookie last season, but he clearly learned from that. He looks much more comfortable this season like he believes he’s a big leaguer.
Does he believe he can take over at third?
“For me, if I’m in the lineup, I’m happy,” he said. “I don’t know what the plan is, whether it’s moving back and forth between center and third, but it’s felt good at third. I guess we’ll see going forward what happens.”
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