Then Tyler Cloyd outpitched Johnny Cueto in a 4-2 Phillies victory and three pitchers who were minor-leaguers two weeks ago stopped the soaring Cincinnati Reds.
"We kind of joked about that," Cloyd said. "There's a lot of us IronPigs here."
A formula for victory at triple-A Lehigh Valley usually resembled Cloyd to Justin De Fratus to Phillippe Aumont. It was what the Phillies followed Monday, with some wrinkles.
Cloyd did not throw a pitch harder than 87.1 m.p.h., according to Pitch F/X data. He fanned nine Reds, more than any International League team during his sublime triple-A season.
"I have no clue," said Cloyd, when asked to explain.
Cloyd arrived to the majors on his command, not his penchant for strikeouts. He whiffed only 6.1 per nine innings at Lehigh Valley. In 13 major-league innings, he has accumulated 14 strikeouts. That is more than any Phillies pitcher over his first two major-league starts with the exception of Lowell Palmer, who struck out 17 in 1969.
He peppered Cincinnati with darting cutters and an improved change-up - a pitch he spent time refining with pitching coach Rich Dubee.
Jay Bruce clubbed an 80 m.p.h. change to deep left in the second. It was one of many deep fly balls hit in the game's early innings. Cloyd stuck with his plan.
"He's pretty cool," manager Charlie Manuel said. "That's what kind of pitcher he is and that's what kind of guy he us. Not too much fazes him. He just kind of drifts along with the tide."
Aumont, who earned his first major-league save, spent a majority of 2012 on the same staff as Cloyd. He concurred with Manuel's assessment.
"He's got no emotions out there," Aumont said, "and I think that's what it takes for a starter."
The small sample size does not dictate definitive statements. Nonetheless, Cloyd has made a perfectly fine impression in two major-league starts.
When camp broke in March, no one foresaw a battery of Tyler Cloyd-Steven Lerud on Sept. 3. Lerud, the journeyman fourth-string catcher, smacked a two-out single to center in the fifth. Cloyd hacked at a Cueto slider and a waterlogged ball barely made it to center for a single, Cloyd's first big-league hit.
"It helped out the team a lot," Cloyd said. "Not only was it my first hit, but it made the game different."
That's because Jimmy Rollins was afforded a chance to bat with two runners on base. He mashed Cueto's first pitch deep to right for a three-run bomb. It was his 1,999th hit, and all the Phillies needed.
"He challenged Rollins and Rollins hurt him," Manuel said. "He's real good."
Cueto had not lost in 13 starts during the day; he was 11-0 with a 1.61 ERA. Sunshine was fleeting Monday while a steady mist fell. The Cloyd clan, which included his mother, father, grandmother and six friends, did not mind.
They made the 700-mile drive from Omaha, Neb., to see Cloyd affirm his temporary role a major-league starting pitcher. They will treasure this September memory forever.
"It was awesome," Cloyd said. "I kept the ball down. I felt a little more relaxed."
Contact Matt Gelb at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @magelb.