Despite Bastardo's midgame struggles, Phillies prevail

Posted: July 28, 2014

IF BEING around the same group of people, at home and on the road, in the dugout, clubhouse and on charter planes, makes a baseball team one big family, relievers are its band of brothers.

They have their own hideout in every ballpark they enter - the bullpen, a place to mess around like a bunch of kids in a treehouse. They hang out together, joke around with one another, and like nothing less than to give up a fellow pitcher’s runs.

Antonio Bastardo did that last night.

The veteran lefthander entered a game with the bases loaded but with a healthy lead. He served up a grand slam to Alfredo Marte on the third pitch he delivered, turning Kyle Kendrick’s shutout into three runs on the starting pitcher’s pitching line.

Justin De Fratus followed an inning later and picked up his fellow reliever. After Bastardo allowed back-to-back hits to begin the seventh, De Fratus came in against the heart of the Arizona Diamondbacks order, struck out three of the four batters he faced and did his part to help the Phillies collect a 9-5 victory.

De Fratus pumped his right fist into his glove when he escaped the inning unscathed.

“He showed the emotion, and it was right for the moment,” manager Ryne Sandberg said. “It was a big out.”

“Antonio’s picked me up a few times this year and so to get out there and pick him up is huge,” De Fratus said. “A ‘thank you’ almost.”

It wasn’t an easy task for the 26-year-old righthander. When he took the ball from Sandberg, De Fratus had to face four former All-Stars, two of whom played in the All-Star Game last month, including one perennial MVP candidate. That perennial MVP candidate, Paul Goldschmidt, fouled off seven pitches against De Fratus, including six in a row with the count full.

After striking out Aaron Hill, De Fratus lost out in the battle with Goldschmidt. The 12-pitch at-bat ended with a walk to load the bases.

De Fratus bounced back, burying a slider in the dirt to punch out Miguel Montero before dialing up 95 mph to get Mark Trumbo swinging, too.

“That was a game-saving moment right there,” Sandberg said.

“I knew if I kept making pitches,” De Fratus said, “there was a chance for me to get out of it.”

De Fratus’s midgame save helped Kendrick collect his fifth win of the season. Kendrick entered the sixth with a shutout, but was given a hook after allowing a double, walk and single to three of the first five batters he faced in the inning.

The slam Bastardo allowed was the first home run he had surrendered in 11 weeks and only the fifth in the last two seasons. And it didn’t do too much damage in the end since the Phillies offense decided to show up.

Grady Sizemore (3-for-5) had two doubles, scored two runs, stole a base and knocked in a run, Darin Ruf (1-for-3) doubled, walked, scored a run and knocked in another on a 400-foot sacrifice fly, and Domonic Brown’s two-run home run in the seventh inning added insurance after Marte’s slam had put a healthy dent into the Phillies’ lead.

Brown finished the night 2-for-4 with a home run, a double, two runs and three RBI. The home run was Brown’s seventh of the season and only the third in his last 47 games.

But the struggling former All-Star has shown signs of coming out of a seasonlong slump: Brown is hitting .300 (18-for-60) in 18 games since June 29.

“He’s getting credited for some hits with some quality at-bats,” Sandberg said. “He had a good swing of the bat tonight with the home run. It should really build some confidence with tonight’s game.”

Show J-Roll the money

When he grounded out to third base with one out in the second inning, Jimmy Rollins earned himself $11 million. As long he he stays healthy for the remainder of the season.

Rollins' second plate appearance was his 1,100th of the last two seasons, the number he had to reach for a guaranteed $11 million option for the 2015 to vest in his contract.

Rollins signed a 3-year, $33 million contract as a free agent before the 2012 season. The deal included a vesting option that could kick the deal up to a maximum of 4 years, $44 million.

Rollins needed either 600 plate appearances this season or a total or 1,100 in 2013 and 2014. He also cannot be on the disabled list at the end of the season, but, even if he is on the DL, the option would still vest if a mutually agreed upon doctor said deemed Rollins available for Opening Day 2015.

So, barring the unlikely scenario that Rollins suffers a career-threatening injury, he'll be back next season. The Phillies are happy with that, too.

Although Rollins entered the day hitting .243, he has a .326 OBP (his highest in three seasons), is on pace to set a career high in walks and is one of only six players in baseball with a dozen home runs and stolen bases (13 home runs, 19 stolen bases).

"I think he's playing shortstop about as good as I would expect," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He's moving around real good at shortstop. Running the bases well. He's added a good eye to his approach at home plate. Resulted in some walks and on-base percentage. And overall, he's been a consistent threat and force at the top of the order."

Phillers

Ryan Howard’s 3-day stay out of the lineup could end tonight. After last night’s game, Sandberg mentioned the Phillies were facing a righthanded pitcher (Josh Collmenter). With a lefthander (Vidal Nuno) on tap tomorrow, Sandberg could platoon Howard and Darin Ruf in this weekend’s games ... Cliff Lee (4-5, 3.67 ERA) will make his second start since returning from the disabled list tonight opposite righthander Josh Collmenter (8-5, 3.64). Lee was roughed up to the tune of six runs on a career-high tying 12 hits in a 7-4 loss to San Francisco on Monday. Sandberg expects improvement: "He probably had to test himself a little bit, just to show him where he was at. And to bounce back the next day and feel good and all that, mentally, there's something to that, and a very positive thing" . . . Grady Sizemore's first-inning single was his 1,000th career hit. Sizemore is 12-for-30 (.400) in seven games out of the leadoff spot for the Phillies . . . When Ryan Howard returns to the lineup, don't rule out Darin Ruf getting playing time in leftfield. Phillies leftfielders entered yesterday with a .569 OPS, worst among baseball's 30 teams.


On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21

Blog: ph.ly/HighCheese

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