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May 11, 2015

Pirates 4, Phillies 3: Phils' bats stay silent against Gerrit Cole

April's N.L. Pitcher of the Month held the Phillies at bay, while Jerome Williams gave up a key three-run homer

The pink bats were out yesterday for Mother's Day, and the pink glove made an appearance tonight as Jerome Williams was on the hill. The Phillies lost 2015's first installment of The Battle of Pennsylvania to the Pittsburgh Pirates, 4-3. Here’s what I saw:

Starting pitcher

1. Jerome Williams paid dearly for his lack of control in the third inning. After issuing free passes to both Gregory Polanco and Andrew McCutchen, he came close to drilling Starling Marte but the pitch hit the knob of Marte’s bat for a foul ball. Williams probably wishes he did plunk Marte. While trying to fool Marte later in the at-bat with a rare curveball, he hung it over the heart of the plate and Marte crushed it out to deep left-center for a three-run bomb.

2. Besides that, there isn’t much to report on Williams. He only lasted five innings but probably could’ve given the Phillies six if they weren’t trailing. Williams gave up three doubles and was able to strand all three runners by getting some key ground balls mostly via his sinker. Final line: 5 IP, 4H, 3 ER, 4 K, 3 BB.


1. The Phillies used a two-out rally in the first inning to start the scoring against Gerrit Cole. Chase Utley worked a four-pitch walk, which was followed by singles to right field by Ryan Howard (jussst over the shift) and Grady Sizemore. The Big Piece even went first to third on Grady Sizemore’s hit fairly easily.

2. Odubel Herrera struck out three times, which is becoming a far too common occurrence. He’s 5-for-32 in the month of May with a crazy 14 strikeouts. Coming into the game, his K% was 25.8% and BB% was 4.2%. Both of those numbers are bad on their own, much less combined together. For a guy that also doesn’t have any power, they’re pretty terrible indicators of what he’s doing at the plate. 

3. Herrera homered in the ninth inning off Pirates closer Mark Melancon after fouling a bunch of pitches off, which was a mere formality after I wrote the previous observation. I'm a huge jinx, by the way.

4. The best at-bat of the night belonged to Freddy Galvis, who fouled off a bunch of heaters and worked a nine-pitch walk off of Cole in the sixth. It felt deserved when he came around to score on Sizemore’s blooper (2nd RBI of the night for him).

5. Cole was the National League Pitcher of the Month in April, and he battled tonight despite not having his best stuff. He threw seven innings of two-run ball. If you don't have your best stuff, the Phillies are probably the first team you'd want to face.

6. UTLEY WATCH: In addition to the walk, Utley worked a good at-bat against Jared Hughes in the eighth and deposited a single over the third baseman's head. That's now a THREE-GAME hitting streak and the batting average is up to .122. Again, don't call it comeback.


1. Justin De Fratus has talked recently about wanting to make quicker work of opposing batters because of the chance to pitch consecutive days more frequently. Mission accomplished tonight: Despite hitting a batter, he threw eight strikes on 11 pitches and retired the Pirates.

2. Sandberg managed this one like a playoff game, using four pitchers to get through the seventh and eighth inning: Jake Diekman, Luis Garcia, Elvis Araujo, and Jeanmar Gomez.


1. Second consecutive day with a throwing error by a Phillies catcher as Carlos Ruiz tossed one into the outfield trying to gun down Gregory Polanco at second. Polanco, who took third on the error, had two steals on the night.

2. Polanco got on base because Cody Asche couldn’t corral a sharply hit ball right at him. I thought there was an argument to be made that the play should’ve been scored an error, and as it turned out, the run proved very costly.

Up next

The Phils and Buccos will be right back at it tomorrow night at The Bank for Game 2 of the four-game set. It’s A.J. Burnett’s (1-1, 1.66 ERA) highly anticipated (OK, not really) return to Philly, while Sean O’Sullivan (0-1, 4.91 ERA) gets the ball for the home team.

According to Ryne Sandberg, the decision to go with O’Sullivan mostly boiled down to experience, as the Phillies felt some of the other options like David Buchanan could make better use of more time in the minors. Taking O’Sullivan’s recent workload into account (plus the fact that he’s, yanno, Sean O’Sullivan), tomorrow might be one of those nights where all hands are on deck.

“Not necessarily,” Sandberg answered when asked if O’Sullivan is stretched out. “He had a simulated game in Miami and that was only 30 pitches and then he might’ve got up to 55 or 60 the next time [in Lakewood]. We’ll have to keep an eye on him and then go from there.”