Bastardo ties Phillies record with six consecutive strikeouts

Antonio Bastardo has struck out nine batters in 4.2 innings this season. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)

Well, the pitching news wasn't all bad. . .

Although Cliff Lee allowed six runs in 3 1/3 innings against the Braves Friday night, Antonio Bastardo gave Phillies fans a reason to be excited about the future of the club's bullpen. The 25-year-old lefty turned in a dynamite performance in the sixth and seventh innings, allowing a base hit to Chipper Jones and then striking out the final six batters he faced.

Bastardo mowed through the heart of the Braves' order, striking out Brian McCann on a 94 MPH fastball, Dan Uggla on a slider, Jason Heyward on a slider, Alex Gonzalez on a 95 MPH fastball, Freddie Freeman on a slider, and Tim Hudson on a 94 MPH fastball.

The six straight strikeouts -- all of them swinging -- tied the Phillies record for a reliever, set first by Jack Meyer in 1958 and then equaled by Willie Heranndez in 1983.

Prior to the Phillies' game against the Mets on Wednesday, I asked pitching coach Rich Dubee what the uber-talented Bastardo had to do to earn the Phillies trust and work his way toward the back of the bullpen.

"Pitch," Dubee said. "He doesn't pitch much. First of all, he hasn't stayed healthy. Second of all, he hasn't been the most effective guy."

Dubee has raved about Bastardo's upside in the past. He's well aware of the potential he has. But Bastardo has battled injuries throughout his career: a shoulder in 2009, an elbow last year, an elbow this winter.

I asked Dubee if Bastardo might grow into his role if given the chance to prove himself on a regular basis.

"Every time you go out there you've got a chance," Dubee said. "You know how you get (to play) more? Get people out. That's how you get to play."

Later that night, Bastardo got five key outs while staving off a Mets comeback, picking up his first victory of the season. Last night, he was even better.

Now, Bastardo needs to prove he can do this on a regular basis.

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