Ronald Torreyes Gives Phillies Shot in the Arm, Bullpen Goes Distance for Win

PHOTO CREDIT: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Won’t lie, I really wanted to use that headline.

The unexpectedly shorthanded Phillies closed out a turbulent first half of the regular season with an impressive 5-4 win over the Red Sox this afternoon. The victory, which puts the Phillies back at the .500 mark with a 44-44 record at the All-Star break, came just hours after four players were placed on the COVID-related IL earlier in the day.

The Phillies were forced to scratch scheduled starting pitcher Aaron Nola. They were also without Alec Bohm, Connor Brogdon, and Bailey Falter. Phillies manager Joe Girardi told reporters before the game that Bohm tested positive for COVID-19, while the other three players were out for tracing.

Relatedly, vaccinated players do not have to miss time for tracing purposes.

After the win, Girardi was asked about the reluctance of some Phillies players to get the COVID-19 vaccine and how it impacts the team. The Phillies are one of just a few teams not currently at the 85% vaccinated threshold that eases the league’s COVID policies.

“It is what it is. It’s not like we’re surprised that something can happen, so we always try to stay prepared,” Girardi said. “The guys try to do the best they can to protect themselves. There are some strands that are extremely contagious, but we had a plan today.”

In the absence of Nola and Bohm, the Phillies got a monster three-hit performance from Ronald Torreyes and 27 outs from a maligned bullpen to close out an impressive 5-2 road trip.

With their seventh win in 10 games, the Phillies moved to within just 3.5 games of the Mets. Since June 1, they have more than doubled their playoff odds (moving from 8.1% to 17.9%), per FanGraphs.

In the third inning, some sloppy Boston defense helped the Phillies take a 2-1 lead against Nick Pivetta. As you would expect, the former Phillies starter, who surrendered five runs (four earned) in just four innings of work, handled it like a true professional:

An inning later, Torreyes delivered the decisive blow with a three-run shot.

“It felt very good, and it’s always good to put a team ahead,” Torreyes said. “It’s always good to hit the ball well, so every time I play I know that I have to do at least a little bit to help the team win.”

Torreyes hit a career-high three homers in 315 at-bats during the 2017 season. This season, he has matched that total in just 127 at-bats.

Despite some tense moments, the bullpen held on, led by a seven-out save from Ranger Suárez.

Using a string of six relievers to cover nine innings is an unconventional path to victory for any team, particularly for one featuring a bullpen that entered the day with a bloated 4.78 ERA.

Brandon Kintzler opened the game with a scoreless first inning before allowing a leadoff homer in the second to Xander Bogaerts. With the Phillies down early, Cristopher Sánchez, who arrived at Fenway Park Sunday morning as part of the team’s COVID-related transactions, delivered three innings of one-run baseball in just his second Major League appearance.

“I give Sánchez a ton of credit because he threw a light side yesterday,” Girardi said. “I don’t think he was supposed to pitch ’til Monday, and to get as many outs as he did today was huge for us.”

Héctor Neris would pitch the Phillies through the fifth, allowing an inherited runner from Sánchez to score before José Alvarado struggled in the sixth. Alvarado recorded just two outs, yielding two runs, while shrinking the Phillies’ lead to just one in the process.

Archie Bradley would escape further damage in the sixth and record two outs in the seventh before turning things over to Suárez. He finished the seventh before escaping a bases-loaded jam in the eighth and pitching a clean ninth.

“He’s played a huge part in a lot of our wins, whether it’s been multiple innings or just one inning, he’s had a great first half,” Girardi said of Suárez, who finished the first half with a 0.77 ERA.