Down the final stretch of the 2013 season, it is beyond fair to say that the Phillies offense has been subpar. Take, for instance, Cliff Lee's final start. Even with only one run being given up in eight innings of work, Lee could not earn the victory when the Phillies could not muster a single score. For fans looking for the positives in the end of the season, though, should look no further than the bullpen. With injuries to Roy Halladay, Kyle Kendrick, and John Lannan, a few of them have had to step into starter roles. Just read some the stats from a few of their final games:
Thursday vs. Braves: 7 IP, 0 ER, 4 H
Tuesday vs. Marlins: 9 IP (including Zack Miner's start), 1 ER, 7 H
Monday vs. Marlins: 7 IP (excluding B.J. Rosenberg's outing), 0 ER, 6 H
Needless to say, the Phils have been fortunate with their relievers in recent games. Tonight, with Ethan Martin returning to the mound, they would have to come through once more.
Cameron Rupp would get the start behind the plate in tonight's game, and it would turn out to be quite a memorable one for the rookie. Fellow call-up Cesar Hernandez would begin the game with a bunt single up the first base line. Jimmy Rollins then came through with a double to put two runners on base against Atlanta starter Mike Minor. Even with an ideal opportunity, the Phillies offense began to let it slip away. Chase Utley fouled out, while Darin Ruf struck out to put two away. Domonic Brown would walk though, giving Rupp his chance. He'd come through in the clutch, collecting a single and the first two RBIs of his major league career.
Freddie Freeman had no desire to see his team get shutout so close to their first playoff game. After Jason Heyward and Justin Upton each singled to begin the home half of the first. Freeman came through with a sacrifice fly to allow Heyward to score, and the Phils held on to a 2-1 lead.
The scoring in this one would not pick up again until the seventh inning. Cesar Hernandez would move up to second base on a wild pitch, that after having singled to begin the frame. Jimmy Rollins singled to Evan Gattis in left field, and a bobble on the play allowed Hernandez to score. An errant pick off attempt by Braves' reliever Jordan Walden allowed J-Roll to move to third. Once again, Utley and Ruf could not come through, each striking out as the first two outs of the inning. Scott Downs then came on in relief, but could not contain Domonic Brown. His single gave the Phils their fourth run of the game, making it a 4-1 score.
One more run would be added to the Phils' total in the eighth. Singles by John Mayberry Jr., Kevin Frandsen, and Cesar Hernandez each singled to load the bases with two away. Chase Utley was then finally able to come through, rolling a ball over to shortstop and reaching first base. Mayberry's run would be the fifth and final of the game for Philly, and the 5-1 score was good enough to secure the win. Well, almost.
As you could've guessed by the headline and opening to this article, the bullpen came through incredibly strong once more. Including Ethan Martin's start, they combined to pitch eight innings of one run ball, more than one could ask for. Aside from Johnathan Papelbon allowing Justin Upton to homer in the ninth, the club hung on for a 5-4 victory. If it hadn't been for Jimmy Rollins incredible diving play in the ninth, we may have been in extras. Luis Garcia, Michael Stutes, Jake Diekman, and B.J. Rosenberg all perfected their jobs, and the Phillies have now have a chance to end their season on a couple-game win streak. Tomorrow afternoon, in the *sigh* final game of the season, Zack Miner will battle rookie Julio Teheran at 1:35.