You truly never know what you're going to see at the ol' ballyard.
The Phillies were forced to turn to outfielder Roman Quinn to pitch the 14th inning of a tie game. They were forced to put Vince Velasquez in left field. And not only did Quinn pitch two innings, but Velasquez gunned down Jose Abreu at the plate trying to score from second on a single in the 14th and came about as close as you can get to throwing out another runner at the plate in the 15th. After review, Leury Garcia was ruled safe. Velasquez made an inning-ending diving catch on the next play.
Incredible athleticism displayed by Quinn and Velasquez, but it came in a 4-3 Phillies loss. A game they led entering the ninth inning.
The game went to extras because of the inability of Juan Nicasio and Jose Alvarez to protect a one-run lead in the ninth. With Hector Neris serving his three-game suspension, Nicasio began the inning and put a man on second with two outs. The lefty Alvarez entered, got ahead of two left-handed hitters but walked one and allowed the game-tying single to the other.
In extra innings, neither team could hit. Between a J.T. Realmuto double and a Quinn single, 24 consecutive batters came to the plate without getting a hit.
Blake Parker and Zach Eflin deserve credit for getting the game to the 15th. They each pitched two perfect innings, with Parker striking out four and Eflin two.
The Phillies are 57-52. They have a good chance to even the series Saturday night behind ace Aaron Nola.
Solid first impression for Vargas
In a favorable matchup against a mediocre, young White Sox offense, Jason Vargas had a solid Phillies debut. He allowed just two runs over 6⅓ innings on a two-run shot from Abreu in the third inning.
Vargas put multiple men on base only once, in the first inning, when he stranded runners on the corners.
Vargas has seven quality starts in his last 12. If he can continue to pitch as he has since May 25 — 3.30 ERA — he can be a real upgrade for this rotation. No, Vargas is not going to wow anyone, but you must consider the pitcher(s) he is replacing. The Phillies had several starters who no longer belonged in a big-league rotation.
Interestingly, Vargas this season has been better the deeper he goes into a game. His opponents have hit .255 the first time through the order, .200 the second and .200 the third. That is rare. The league average batting average is 20 points higher after the first trip through the order.
Vargas showed the value of pitching below the speed limit. His fastest pitch on Friday night was 84.6 mph and his slowest was 69.8. He offers a much different look than the many Phillies right-handers with mid-90s fastballs.
Theoretically, Vargas' repertoire should make it harder to hit someone like Nick Pivetta in relief of his starts, or someone like Nola on Saturday night.
The Phillies stole four bases for the first time all season — two by Roman Quinn, one from Bryce Harper and one from Scott Kingery. (Quinn also homered for the second straight game, hitting one to the second deck in right field.)
The Phils went ahead in the seventh inning when Quinn bunted for a hit, stole second, advanced to third on Cesar Hernandez's infield hit and scored on Jean Segura's ground-ball single between first and second. Hernandez was aggressive going first to third on the play, which allowed Segura to reach second.
It was the kind of energetic baserunning Phillies other than Harper have not utilized much this season.
Keepin' it real
When do teams stop testing J.T. Realmuto altogether? For whatever reason, White Sox catcher James McCann tried to steal third with one out in the seventh inning of a tie-game and was nabbed by a quite a bit.
It was the 30th base stealer Realmuto has caught this season. Not only does that lead the majors, but no other catcher has 20.
It was a quiet Phillies debut for Corey Dickerson, who struck out on three pitches as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning.
Dickerson says his groin injury is nearly healed. He will start against most right-handed pitchers. The Phillies face a lefty on Saturday but Dickerson could start Sunday against right-hander Reynaldo Lopez.
Tomorrow is a Nola night.
Saturday night at 7:05 — Aaron Nola (9-2, 3.72) vs. LHP Ross Detwiler (1-1, 6.35)
Sunday afternoon at 1:35 — LHP Drew Smyly (2-5, 6.85) vs. Reynaldo Lopez (5-9, 5.43)
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