B.J. Rosenberg admits there is a difference between the eighth inning and ninth inning and he discovered that first hand to close out one of the Phillies more entertaining games of the year.
With Jonathan Pappelbon having pitched three of the previous four days, interim manager Ryne Sandberg decided he wasn’t going to be used Sunday.
So Rosenberg came in and threw a hitless ninth inning to record his first career save in the Phillies 3-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves.
Not all of the crowd of 38,706 had stayed to the end, but there were enough of them for Rosenberg to hear on the mound.
Facing the top of the Braves order, Rosenberg got B.J. Upton to fly to right, Andrelton Simmons to pop up to third before striking out Freddie Freeman on a 95 MPH fastball.
“It’s a little bit different,” Rosenberg said when comparing pitching in the eighth and ninth innings. “The biggest thing is how the crowd gets so involved.”
He fed off the crowd’s enthusiasm.
“When the crowd gets like that you take a deep breath and stay within yourself,” he said.
And even though Rosenberg said there is a difference between the eighth and ninth, he uses the same approach, regardless of the inning.
“I tried to keep my same routine and go out there like it was any other inning,” he said.
Rosenberg has been one of the most pleasant late-season surprises.
He appeared in three games earlier this season with the Phillies, but since returning in August, Rosenberg has not allowed an earned run in 11 appearances, totaling 9 2/3 innings.
“He earned the spot in there today,” Sandberg said of Rosenberg. “He came though big-time with great stuff and pounded the strike zone with all of his pitches and actually threw a split in there which is his third pitch.”
And Rosenberg didn’t waste any time. He needed only nine pitches, capped by a 95 MPH fastball for a game-ending strikeout of Freddie Freeman. He said it mean even more not only because it was his first save but it came against a Braves franchise that he grew up rooting for.
“Anytime I get to pitch against the Braves now it is a little more special when we win because we are beating the Braves,” he said. “It was really neat especially going in there, facing the top of their lineup and getting Freeman, one of the best players in the National League in the end, it is really exciting.”
What was also exciting to Rosenberg is how his teammates view his work. Winning pitcher Cole Hamels, says that Rosenberg’s recent success is no surprise.
“I always thought he was great,” Hamels said. “It’s just a matter of time I think if he is able to get his confidence and to instill the confidence in him that you are a quality pitcher and have great stuff and just go out there and just make pitches as opposed to how many days will I be up here this time.”
It’s all about confidence.
“I think just kind of getting him to be confident and a big league pitcher, it’s showing,” Hamels said.
Rosenberg, who turns 28 on Sept. 17, is pitching with more confidence and could be a major part of the Phillies bullpen going forward, regardless what inning he is used.