That's the good news. The bad news is that the guy facing Fernandez wasn't very good, either. In fact, he left the game in the fifth inning walking alongside head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan after appearing to injure his groin, and while the Phillies termed the injury "soreness," and the removal "precautionary," A.J. Burnett is 37 years old, and 37-year-old groins seldom bark for no reason.
"I'm not too concerned about it, but then again, you never know, I'm no spring chicken anymore," Burnett said.
Burnett said that he did not think much of the tightness that he felt in his groin because he had dealt with that type of soreness before. But by the end of his outing, it felt worse than he had ever felt.
Nevertheless, he was optimistic about his prognosis, saying that it "takes a lot to keep me off the field."
Player and team will re-evaluate the injury today.
The two starting pitchers combined to throw 195 pitches in 8 1/3 innings. Burnett walked six, giving him 14 of those on the season, compared with 10 strikeouts, in only 16 innings. Nevertheless, only two of the 11 baserunners he allowed managed to score, both doing so on a home run by Derek Dietrich in the second inning.
The most notable performance of the evening came courtesy of the Phillies' bullpen, which hasn't been the sturdiest ship in the water over the first couple of weeks of the season.
Last night, though, it thrived. Jake Diekman recorded the two biggest outs of the game, striking out Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Dietrich after inheriting a bases-loaded, one-out situation from Burnett in the fifth inning.
The Phillies then scored three runs in the fifth inning - a leadoff triple by Jimmy Rollins was followed by singles from Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Marlon Byrd and Domonic Brown - to take a 6-2 lead.
Rookie lefty Mario Hollands then pitched two scoreless innings before turning the eighth and ninth over to Antonio Bastardo and Jonathan Papelbon. Bastardo walked one and allowed a couple of hard-hit fly balls, but escaped with only one run.
Papelbon pitched a perfect ninth, getting Marcell Ozuna to pop out, Giancarlo Stanton to strike out, and Garrett Jones to fly out to centerfield to end the game. It was Papelbon's second save in three opportunities.
Rollins, Utley and Howard combined to reach base 10 times, five via walk. Byrd and Brown both had two hits, with Byrd narrowly missing a three-run home run in the first inning, his high fly ball bouncing off the metal fence above the leftfield wall on what ended up as an RBI double (Brown followed with an RBI single).
The Phillies snapped a four-game losing streak that included a three-game sweep at the hands of the Brewers. They are now 4-6.
Losing Burnett for any length of time would obviously deal the Phillies rotation a significant blow. Lefty Cole Hamels is hoping to return within the next 2 weeks, but Jonathan Pettibone will join the rotation today until Hamels does retun. Behind Pettibone on the depth chart is likely minor league righty David Buchanan, currently pitching at Triple A.
"It was pretty uncomfortable the last inning," Burnett said. "It came on early and then went away, so I didn't think it was too serious. Pretty much every pitch out of the stretch that last inning, I felt it a lot, trying to finish balls."
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