Shortly after Chris Heisey hit a three-run homer off Vance Worley to cut Cincinnati's deficit to two runs in the seventh inning on Sept. 1, 2011, Bastardo was summoned in to face Votto with one on and one out.
Bastardo responded by inducing an inning-ending doubleplay grounder to kill the Reds' rally. He struck out all three batters he faced in the next inning.
At the conclusion of that game, and after 5 months of a 6-month season, Bastardo had best opponents' batting average in baseball (.112), the best WHIP (0.75) and the fifth-best ERA (1.38) among major league relievers. He stumbled in September and has failed to get back in 2012.
But the 26-year-old lefthander has quietly showed signs of his dominating, 2011 self in the last 2 weeks. Bastardo piggybacked two scoreless outings in Atlanta this the weekend by retiring the only two batters he faced in relief of Roy Halladay on Wednesday.
He hasn't allowed a run in a seven-game stretch since Aug. 21. Perhaps Bastardo is doing the opposite of what he did in 2011: After an inconsistent first 5 months, he is in the midst of his best stretch of the year as 2012 draws to a close.
"I think he's going to be OK," manager Charlie Manuel said before Wednesday's 6-2 win over the Reds. "The consistency part, I think he'll get that back. The better he pitches, I think that's what builds his confidence back. That's who he is."
Bastardo hasn't just thrown shutout baseball in his last seven appearances. He has dominated the opposition.
During the seven-game, 5 2/3-inning stretch, Bastardo has struck out 12 of the 19 batters he has faced. He hasn't walked a batter and has allowed just three hits.
"He shows you he can get people out," Manuel said. "He just needs to be more consistent. When he got hot last year, that's what you saw. And he really helped us."
Before his current, 2-week stretch, Bastardo had a 7.46 ERA in the previous 3 months, a 29-game stretch. He allowed 21 runs on 26 hits, including seven home runs, in 25 1/3 innings.
On the season as a whole, Bastardo's 4.81 ERA ranks 134th among 144 major league relievers with at least 40 innings. But in the last 2 weeks, he has shown signs he might be regaining the form that had him as one of the game's best relievers a year ago, when he had the ninth-best WHIP (0.93).
Erik Kratz got Wednesday's one-sided win under way by clubbing a three-run homer in the second inning off Cincinnati's Mike Leake. The home run was Kratz' ninth of the season.
It also set a personal best for the 32-year-old, career minor league catcher. Kratz has hit 17 home runs in 75 games between the Phillies and Triple A Lehigh Valley in 2012. Before this season, his single-season high was 16 home runs in 73 games between Double A Harrisburg and Triple A Syracuse in 2007, while in the Toronto system.
"If he keeps hitting home runs," Manuel said, laughing, "he might be Babe Ruth."
Contact Ryan Lawrence at email@example.com.