Someday, someone will ask you where you were during the “Travis Jankowski Game.” And you will tell that person you were in the same place you were for the “Matt Moore Game.”
Okay, yeah, maybe that’s a bit much. But led by a career-high 4 RBI from Jankowski and a stellar start from Moore, the Phillies opened their second half schedule with a 5-2 win over the Marlins.
No NL East team will be ready to concede the division race after this one, but it was a good second half start for the Phillies against both a team and starting pitcher that have given them fits in recent years.
The Marlins entered the day with a .579 winning percentage against the Phillies dating back to the start of the 2019 season. They have just a .385 winning percentage against all other teams during that time.
As for Marlins starting pitcher Sandy Alcantara, he entered the day with a 1.29 ERA in two starts against the Phillies this season, holding hitters to an anemic .091 average and .348 OPS.
After scoring a total of just two runs over 14 innings in his two starts, the Phillies quickly surpassed that modest output in the first inning thanks to a two-out rally.
Following a Bryce Harper double and consecutive walks by Rhys Hoskins and Didi Gregorius, Jankowski cleared the bases with a screamer of a three-run double.
"IT'S THE SLOWEST BASES-CLEARING DOUBLE YOU'LL EVER SEE!"
Travis Jankowski knocks in three runs to give the Phillies the lead! pic.twitter.com/oJ4ZtVAFg2
— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) July 16, 2021
Two innings later, with the Marlins now trailing 3-2, the Phillies again made something happen with two outs.
A Jazz Chisholm error on a routine grounder by Hoskins and a walk to Gregorius set up another big spot for Jankwowski.
The centerfielder delivered an RBI single that gave the Phillies both their most hits in a game against Alcantara this season and a 4-2 lead. Jankowski would finish the day 3-for-3, raising his average to .350.
The Phillies would tack on another run a batter later when Ronald Torreyes singled up the middle to make it 5-2.
Alcantara lasted just three innings, needing a staggering 80 pitches to do it.
Just Put It in Play
While the Phillies weren’t entirely immune to the strikeout in Game 1, the importance of simply putting the ball in play was evident:
- Jankowski’s three-run double had just an .090 expected batting average and left his bat at 64.9 mph.
- Torreyes’ RBI single came with an xBA of .150.
- Chisholm’s inning-extending error came on a 76.2 mph grounder off Hoskins’ bat that carried an .060 xBA.
On a related note, the Phillies have done a much better job of putting the ball in play over the last seven weeks.
On May 31, the Phillies’ K% stood at 27.2%, the third-highest mark in baseball. Since June 1, their K% is 21.4%, the ninth-lowest in the sport.
The latter number represents a marked improvement that has coincided with an uptick in offensive production across several key statistical areas.
Moore: Good While He Lasts
Moore didn’t give the Phillies a ton of length in Game 1, but he was effective while nailing down 13 of 21 needed outs.
Moore struck out nine Marlins batters, easily eclipsing his previous season-high of five strikeouts. He did so while allowing just two runs.
His afternoon could have taken on a much different look had he not escaped a jam with runners on the corners and one out in the first inning.
Moore, however, would work out of trouble by getting a pair of tough right-handed hitters, first getting Adam Duvall to produce a weak infield pop out before sneaking a 93.6 mph fastball by Jesus Aguilar.
— Brodes Media (@BrodesMedia) July 16, 2021
He allowed a pair of runs in the second, but he bounced back to give the Phillies seven more outs without allowing further damage. He departed at 79 pitches with one away in the fifth.
If you’re wondering why the hook from Phils manager Joe Girardi at that point, keep in mind that Moore’s season-high was 80 pitches back on April 11. On a sizzling hot day, he was probably just about out of gas. Better a batter too early than a batter too late, so no argument from me on that decision.
Moore now has a 3.06 ERA in four starts since rejoining the Phillies’ rotation in late June.
After he turned the ball over to reliever Archie Bradley, things looked like they were about to get weird, as things often do with the Phillies bullpen. But Torreyes, who has been nothing short of a godsend for the Phillies this season, made sure that didn’t happen.
AN AMAZING 5-4-3 DOUBLE PLAY TO END THE 5TH INNING!
— Brodes Media (@BrodesMedia) July 16, 2021
The Phillies head into the nightcap of the doubleheader over the .500 mark for the first time since June 13 and just three games behind the Mets for first place.