The Miami Marlins came to town Tuesday night with one of the best bullpens in baseball, but the Phillies torched two of their top relievers (Dylan Floro and John Curtiss) for seven runs on seven hits in the bottom of the eighth inning en route to an 8-3 victory at Citizens Bank Park.
The win allowed the Phillies (22-20) to remain a game behind the New York Mets (20-16), who won for a second straight night in Atlanta.
Miami, which went 7-3 against the Phillies a year ago on its way to making the playoffs, took a 3-1 lead in the top of the eighth on a two-run homer by Jazz Chisholm off Jose Alvarado.
Floro started the bottom of the eighth by retiring Bryce Harper on a groundout, but the next nine batters reached base for the Phillies.
Rookie Nick Maton, coming off his two-homer game Sunday against Toronto, delivered another clutch hit for the Phillies, tying the game at 3 with an RBI single off Floro, whose ERA went from 0.96 to 3.32.
Ronald Torreyes, just off the injured list, followed with a pinch-hit, two-run single off Curtiss to give the Phillies the lead. It was Torreyes’ first RBI since Sept. 17, 2019 when he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the 12th inning to win a game for Minnesota against the Chicago White Sox.
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Joe Girardi screamed when Kevin Pillar got hit in the face
Joe Girardi said he screamed loud enough Monday night to stun the rest of his family. The Phillies manager was watching a game between division rivals when a 94.5 mph fastball from Atlanta Braves reliever Jacob Webb hit the New York Mets’ Kevin Pillar square in the face with two out in the top of the seventh inning.
“That was hard for me to watch,” Girardi said. “Actually my family was here and they heard me scream when he got hit.”
After last season was shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic, baseball is dealing with an epidemic of hit batters this season. Actually, it’s a trend that has been on the rise for the last four seasons. According to a recent Sports Illustrated story, batters are being hit on average nearly once per game. The story said the highest percentage of hit batters since 1901 occurred last season at 0.92 per game, the same rate as this season. The two highest before that were 0.84 in 2019 and 0.80 in 2018.
The Phillies, of course, had their own scary moment late last month in St. Louis when Bryce Harper was hit in the face by Cardinals reliever Genesis Cabrera.
Girardi believes a rise in velocity and a lack of command have become a combustible combination.
“I just think with the velocity that is going on with the pitchers today and [with] them pitching up, I think the ball takes off a little bit more because of the spin rate,” Girardi said. “I think [batters] understanding that they have to get to velocity, sometimes they might start a little bit earlier and they become more exposed. And I think we worry about up and down more than we do about command to the corners and the focus is velocity sometimes and the command is not always there. And I think it’s somewhat dangerous.”
Girardi believes all players should wear extended ear flaps on their helmets, but he acknowledged that even more than that might need to be done.
“I hope we get to the point where everyone wears [an extended] flap and I’m not so sure that would have prevented it for Pillar,” Girardi said. “It didn’t prevent it for Harp, but I would like to see guys take more preventive measures because I think it’s as dangerous now as it has ever been. It’s concerning to me.”
It is highly unlikely that players will be willing to wear face masks at any point in the near future.
Girardi said he does not think there is any malicious intent in what is happening, but he does believe that some high-velocity pitchers are more concerned with throwing to areas than spots.
“I think we worried more about command back in the day,” Girardi said. “To me, there’s a difference between command and control, and a lot of these high-velocity guys can control their stuff; they’re just not necessarily looking to hit a spot. I think that sometimes the danger is that they’re just going to throw it as hard as they can up in the zone. And they’re not trying to hit anyone.
“My heart goes out to Kevin Pillar. My heart goes out to Webb. I saw what he was going through yesterday. The young man who hit Harp, we saw what he was going through. It’s dangerous on both sides from a physical and a mental standpoint. There is something we have to try to do so we can reduce these types of injuries. I just hope Kevin is OK.”
Pillar, after being checked out at the hospital, said he was fine.
Girardi admitted that Monday night’s incident so frightened him that he wondered for the first time if moving the mound back a foot or two might be in the best interest of the game.
“It was the first time I thought that maybe moving the mound back was a good idea,” he said. “I started thinking in mind about a guy who has been throwing a curveball 60 feet, 6 inches and now you’re asking him to throw it a foot or two further — how is that going to change him and how long is that going to mess him up?
“And then I started thinking: Would the hit-by-pitches go down if the mound was further back? I really don’t know. I don’t have any science to prove my thought is right or wrong, but I think we have to look into more protective measures, whatever that might be.”
Two days after their heated exchange in the dugout down in Dunedin, Fla., there was nothing but love being felt between Girardi and second baseman Jean Segura on Tuesday at Citizens Bank Park.
Columnist Marcus Hayes applauded Girardi for calling out Segura on Sunday and suggested he joined the 76ers’ Doc Rivers and the Flyers’ Alain Vigneault as men willing to get tough when needed.
Steve Falk captured the Phillies’ win with some outstanding photographs.
Tonight: Zach Eflin faces Miami ace Trevor Rogers, 7:05 p.m.
Tomorrow: Vince Velasquez against Sandy Alcantara in series finale with Marlins, 7:05 p.m.
Friday: Aaron Nola pitches series opener against Boston, 7:05 p.m.
Saturday: Chase Anderson goes against Red Sox, 7:15 p.m.
Sunday: Zack Wheeler pitches series finale against Boston, 1:05 p.m.
Stat of the day
On this date in 1954, Phillies president Bob Carpenter publicly apologized to infielder Granny Hamner for having a private detective follow him away from the ballpark.
“I told Hamner this morning when I called him to apologize directly that I couldn’t blame him if he was three times as angry as he was,” Carpenter said. “But Gran, who has always been one of my favorite players, was very nice about it and I feel that with this public apology I have done all I can to square the matter.”
Hamner, who was hitting .365 at the time for a Phillies team that was only a game out of first place, was indeed upset.
“I resent this and I intend to do something about it,” Hamner said. “This stuff of treating me and the other ballplayers like 2-year-olds is going to wreck our club. We can win the pennant. We have a better team than in  when we won. But this uncalled-for, Gestapo tactic will ruin our chances if it’s not cut out right away.”
The Phillies finished in fourth place with a 75-79 record, 22 games behind the World Series-champion New York Giants. Hamner hit .299 with 39 doubles, 11 triples, 13 home runs, a .351 on-base percentage and 89 RBIs.
From the mailbag
Question: What have your impressions of Girardi been so far in Philly? Feels like he’s just getting a free pass for simply not being Gabe.
Answer: I believe full judgment on Girardi should not be passed until the 2021 season is over. That said, he has made some major gaffes this season. The first one came April 9 when he had to take Zack Wheeler out of a game in the middle of an at-bat in Atlanta when he did not realize he was making the Phillies’ second trip of the inning to the mound. The second one came May 5 when he tried to bring Enyel De Los Santos into a game only to be told by the home-plate umpire that the reliever was ineligible because he was not on the lineup card. Those kinds of things should not happen to a veteran manager.
Although his style and delivery are much different, Girardi does actually have some things in common with Gabe Kapler. They are both players’ managers, but I think we saw Sunday when Girardi jumped Segura that he will not tolerate lackadaisical play. Kapler was often too tentative in that regard.
Ultimately, however, Girardi will be judged on how the Phillies do this season, and right now they are two games over .500 and one game out of first place. That’s not an awful place to be.