The Phillies have the bats. You can see that even at this early stage of the season. This, in fact, is going to be their most productive offensive team since that time before Ryan Howard collapsed a couple of feet from home plate with a ruptured Achilles tendon, bringing a golden era of Philadelphia baseball to a screeching halt.
We have seen displays of power and patience and there is also the depth that rookie Scott Kingery provides on a daily basis by being able to play so many positions in such a competent manner.
We saw all of the above on a chilly Monday evening at a thinly populated Citizens Bank Park and the result was a 6-5 victory over the Cincinnati Reds that pushed the Phillies’ record to 3-1 on their first homestand of the season.
The Phillies, as usual, saw more than their share of pitches, a statistic that they continue to lead the major leagues in. They also slugged three home runs with the last coming from Nick Williams, who came off the bench with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning and cracked a 3-1 pitch from Kevin Quackenbush into the seats in right-center field, breaking a 5-5 tie.
It was just what the computer ordered.
— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) April 10, 2018
Kingery and the white-hot Rhys Hoskins also homered for the Phillies, who have scored at least five runs in five of their nine games. The Phils did not have five games of five runs or more until their 18th game in each of the last two seasons.
“You look up and down this lineup and you have guys that just know how to hit,” Kingery said. “They know how to see pitches, draw walks, get on base and we’re starting to roll right now and I think people are feeding off each other. We have people coming up in big situations and getting hits like Nick did tonight. You just feel it in the dugout. Someone is going to come up with a big hit.”
That’s a good vibe to have, but it’s not enough to take the Phillies to the postseason. What we do not know and probably will not know for some time is if they have enough pitching and a manager capable of properly handling the staff.
Gabe Kapler is learning on the job and he had another curious night Monday. Ben Lively showed his competitive side by pitching out of a potential first-inning disaster that saw him face four batters and give up a run before he got an out. He allowed just one run that inning.
But Lively coughed up a 3-2 lead in the third and was already at 86 pitches when he went back to the mound with a 5-4 lead in the sixth inning. He could not hold the 5-4 lead either, although he did earn the distinction of becoming the first Phillies starter to go through an opposing lineup three times this season.
“Not good,” Lively said when asked to describe his outing. “Personally, everything was all over the place. I kept it in there. I made a pitch when I needed to, but it just could have been a lot better.”
It could have also been a victory if Kapler had gone to his bullpen in the sixth.
“He’s just the kind of guy you can ride,” Kapler said. “He’s dependable. He’s fiery. He’s aggressive. He’s competitive. It’s why we bet on him.”
That bet did not pay off, but the Phillies did still get a win. Lively, however, understands that at some point Jerad Eickhoff is going to be ready to return to the rotation and if he does not pitch better, it could be his job that is in jeopardy.
“Everyone knows Jerad is coming back,” Lively said. “I’m just going to keep pitching my game and playing my game.”
The Phillies are going to need more than Lively’s fiery competitiveness if they’re going to get where they want to go and he knows it.