SEATTLE — The way Freddy Galvis saw it, in no uncertain terms, these Phillies had no more to lose. The hole was dug, the shortcomings exposed. Forget it, Galvis said to a few reporters Monday, and it was not a surrender. It was a plea to start anew.
“I think everybody takes that personally,” first baseman Tommy Joseph said. “It wasn’t an organized meeting or anything. We all know what was said. Now it’s a matter of taking it personally and making a difference.”
The Phillies won two games in two days here, the latest a 5-4 comeback win Wednesday over the Mariners. Two wins in two days since Galvis’ impassioned rant will not alter this roster’s fate. Did his words matter? Maybe, maybe not. But the team with the worst record in baseball has been kicked around enough, so it did something about it.
That was worth celebrating. Every few seconds, a burst of screams from the nearby clubhouse infiltrated the manager’s office. Winning won’t fix everything for these Phillies, but it can improve the mood among a young group affected by its constant failures.
“We’re 3-3 on the road trip, which is nice to see,” Pete Mackanin said. “You hear them inside. They’re pretty happy about the whole thing.”
Joseph crushed a solo homer to tie the game in the ninth. Rookie Cameron Perkins drew a walk, advanced to second on a balk, and scored on a single by rookie Andrew Knapp for the decisive run.
The Phillies won because rookie Ricardo Pinto tossed three shutout innings that kept the game close after rookie Mark Leiter Jr. surrendered three homers that traveled a combined 1,244 feet in five innings. Hector Neris saved it.
They had not won a road series since April 18-20.
“Pinto was the key to that game,” Mackanin said.
The 23-year-old reliever replaced Edubray Ramos on the roster. The two men are friends; they are from the same Venezuelan town, Guacara, and train together in the winter. Pinto flew across the country Monday to join the Phillies. He captured his first major-league win Wednesday.
Pinto has benefited from a transition to the bullpen.
“Before, when I was starting games, I wouldn’t be as aggressive as I am as a reliever,” he said through a team interpreter. “That’s my mind-set I have now. When I take the mound as a reliever, I try to be aggressive. I try to attack the hitters from the first pitch. And it works.”
When Joseph stepped to the plate against Seattle’s hard-throwing closer, Edwin Diaz, the Phillies had been hitless since the third inning. Diaz threw Joseph five fastballs. He fouled off two of them. Diaz countered with a sixth fastball. It was 98 mph. Joseph cheated a bit. He did not miss it.
Before the offense atoned, Leiter made what was likely his last start — for now. Jerad Eickhoff should return to the rotation for a July 4 home game against Pittsburgh. He immediately becomes one of the highest priorities for the season’s final three months. The Phillies did not see the same pitcher they came to rely upon last season; his two-week respite from a back injury, they hope, can return Eickhoff to his old form.
The list of first-half disappointments extends well beyond him.
“The guys are tired of losing,” Mackanin said. “We’ve been in so many games that it gets to be frustrating. Matt Stairs had a meeting with the hitters the other day and he basically read them the riot act. He told them we need more quality at-bats. I think that affected them.”
So did Galvis’ words.
“It’s nice to have a leader like that to be able to call us out a little bit,” Knapp said. “It’s been a tough stretch. But we have a lot of good ballplayers. He’s right. We need to start playing a little bit better. That’s what we’re capable of. So I don’t think he’s asking too much of us. It lit a fire a little bit.”