It took 14 innings and 278 minutes, but the Phillies escaped Miami on Sunday afternoon with a series win at Marlins Park for the first time since the 2017 season. I guess we could huff and puff about what’s supposed to be a dominant lineup faltering for most of the day against Marlins pitching, or piss and moan about a clearly superior team almost losing a series to what looks like Major League Baseball’s worst team, but I’m not going to do that.
Marlins Park is a terrible place to play. Consider this: 38,388 was the combined announced paid attendance for this three-game set. According to the Phillies, the team is drawing 38,668 fans per night at Citizens Bank Park this season. In other words, after playing their first 11 games in front of spirited crowds at Citizens Bank Park and Nationals Park, it can’t be easy to rev it up in front of what looks and feels like 900 apathetic fans.
Still, it was a struggle as the Phillies went only 3 for 12 with runners in scoring position, stranding 13 runners along the way, and they ran dangerously close to spoiling an encouraging start from Vince Velasquez. Fortunately, Jean Segura stepped to the plate in the 14th and put an end to the madness with his first home run of the season:
— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) April 14, 2019
The two-run homer was Segura’s second hit of the day and marked the fourth time he reached base. Segura has only walked four times in his first 48 at-bats with the Phillies, but he now has seven multi-hit performances in 14 games. That’s, uh, pretty good. Yes?
Of course, Segura wouldn’t have had the opportunity to play hero had it not been for the fourth inning homer off the bat of Cesar Hernandez:
— 2008 Phillies (@2008Philz) April 14, 2019
I imagine this will go overlooked because good decisions often do, but credit should go to Gabe Kapler for sticking with Hernandez and allowing him to get some hacks off struggling Marlins starting pitcher Jose Urena. Admittedly, batters from both sides of the plate had mashed Urena prior to today, but Kapler letting Hernandez rip against a pitcher allowing a .342 BAA and .919 OPS to left-handed hitters was a good call. He could have simply swapped in Scott Kingery for Hernandez, but he instead left both players in the lineup, and it paid off in a big 5 for 11 day from the pair. It also shouldn’t be lost that Kingery, who is now 8 for 16 with three doubles this season, is pushing for more playing time. It’s worth keeping an eye on how much more Kapler gives him and at whose expense.
But the big story was the Phillies’ much maligned bullpen that has (rightfully) drawn the ire of fans so far this season. Seven Phillies relievers combined to toss eight shutout innings, striking out 14 while allowing only five total baserunners. On the day, the Phillies bullpen lowered its ERA from 5.44 to 4.66 and its WHIP from 1.49 to 1.36. Amazingly, Craig Kimbrel didn’t appear in the game. Incredible, really. Are the Phillies’ bullpen woes fixed after one excellent effort against a piss-poor Miami lineup? No, but its performance does demonstrate what I wrote last Tuesday after a disastrous performance against the Nationals:
I’m all for a better bullpen, and it’s an issue the front office will have to address if that uptick doesn’t happen from within in the coming weeks, but for the people banging their fists on the table, demanding the shiniest and most expensive toy on the shelf because their team is playing .700 baseball two weeks into the season, let’s maybe relax for at least a week or two. There will be other ways–much cheaper ones–that prevent the type of roster and payroll inflexibility the Phillies need to stay away from, while there will also be a time address the issues at hand once there is a more complete understanding, one based on a thorough sample, of what the issues actually are.
For instance, take Victor Arano who doesn’t cost the approximate 3-year deal worth $40-50 million sought by Kimbrel.
Jesus has gotten into Victor Arano’s stuff? Dude’s slider looks freaking unhitable 👇 pic.twitter.com/4YfflhRzEt
— Thiago (@TScabbia) April 14, 2019
Yeah, I know. To say Arano is the cure-all after two appearances is obviously premature, but so is stomping for the Phillies to eat their remaining 2019 payroll flexibility by signing Kimbrel after 10 games. So, let’s just all wait and see. How’s that sound?