The GCL Phillies played and won the second game of the GCL Championship series. It was an exciting game that saw sloppy fielding gift the GCL Cardinals two unearned runs in the top of the first inning. The Phillies stranded runners early, but finally broke through in the fifth inning to take the lead. They held on and survived a Cardinals’ rally in the ninth to claim victory, tie the series, and force a deciding game.
The organizations’ three other playoff bound teams all had off as they set up their rotations. Reading and Lehigh Valley used the day off to make some more roster adjustments.
But, first …
GCL Phillies (43-15, 2-1) beat the GCL Cardinals, 3-2 in the second game of the three-game championship series. The rubber game of the series will be played Wednesday at noon at Bright House Field. The game is open to the public, and entry is free. The Phillies are 3-0 at Bright House this season.
The game was an exciting affair. Both teams played sloppy at times. Both received excellent pitching. Both had some clutch hitting. Both made mistakes. And, both made great plays. The game wasn’t decided until the last pitch, with the bases loaded, and only one out. Yes, exciting.
The day’s biggest surprise came when Nick Fanti and Kevin Gowdy came out to loosen their arms, long-tossing in left field. Usually (I can’t claim “always” now) , the starting pitcher long tosses with his battery mate. So, the first thing we confirmed was that Gowdy would start and Fanti would be the first pitcher out of the bull pen. (of course, since Gowdy had only pitched one inning since a July 21st due to a thigh injury, we expected him to be lifted after two innings, tops.
I also confirmed that Mickey Moniak was lifted from Monday’s game in Jupiter due to a hip injury. He was dressed in uniform, but was wearing sneakers instead of spikes.
Gowdy started the game and looked strong. He got 5 ground outs and one fly out to Jhailyn Ortiz in his 2.0 innings. He gave up two singles in the first that should have amounted to nothing. In fact, Gowdy probably should have escaped the inning with just one hit but circumstances beyond his control intervened.
Gowdy got the lead off batter on a ground ball to 3B Raul Rivas, who looks infinitely more confident after his short stint with the Threshers. The second batter lined a single to the outfield. Gowdy looked like he was out of the inning when he got a ground ball up the middle and SS Cole Stobbe gloved the ball behind the second base bag and flipped to Daniel Brito to start an inning-ending double play. Brito opted to bare-hand the toss and missed it.
The next batter lofted one of those “Oh, crap!” balls to left center field. Three players converged on it, but none were able to make the catch. LF Josh Stephen picked the ball up and fired to third, the runners were hung up because there was a fair chance that the ball would be caught. (If this had been a playoff game in Atlanta, the infield fly rule might have been invoked. jk) The throw was late and eluded Rivas. The ball bounced off the dugout fence and ricocheted along the fence rather than out at an angle to Gowdy who was backing up the play. Somehow the ball made it into the dugout and the runners were awarded an additional base.
The runner at third had injured himself on his slide and after being tended to for what felt like 10 minutes, he walked down the line, touched home plate, and registered the game’s first run. Manager Roly deArmas opted to play the infield back and a second run scored on a ground ball to Stobbe. He made a point of “coaching up” the guys who had appeared a little loose in their play, but in an encouraging way to bolster their morale.
The Phillies fought back immediately, getting a lead off single from Brito and a walk from Stephen. A force at second got the lead runner to third, but 2 strike outs ended the threat.
Gowdy continued to look good in the second. He got 3 ground outs to Stobbe, Brito, and 1B Danny Zardon. Gowdy was finished after 2.0 innings. He threw 29 pitches and his fastball sat 91-93 mph. He popped the mitt at 93 mph more than a few times. He looks to be fully recovered. I can’t wait to see him during Instructs.
Nick Fanti came in to start the third inning. He recorded his first 2 strike outs both swinging in the inning. He opened the fourth with his third consecutive strike out (swinging). Then the next batter launched a triple to right center. The Phillies caught a break here. The next batter bunted through a pitch on a suicide squeeze attempt. The runner was a dead duck and was tagged out after a short run down. So, of course, the batter who couldn’t make contact on a bunt, lines a single over Brito. But, he got picked off by Fanti to end the inning.
The Phillies rode that wave of momentum into the bottom of the inning and loaded the bases with no outs on a single by Zardon, walk to CF Malvin Matos, and single by RF Jhailyn Ortiz. But, after a visit to the mound by the Cardinals’ coach, the pitcher struck out the next two batters and got a fly out to end the inning.
The mood among the hundreds (dozens, tens, many?) of fans in the stands became resigned to a terrible fate for the team. But, Fanti came out in the fifth and punched out two more batters, both swinging again.
The Phillies loaded up and tried again in the bottom of the inning, and got a couple breaks along the way. Brito lined a one-out single that the second baseman got his glove on but only deflected the ball into the outfield. Stephen singled to put two runners on base for the 3-4-5 hitters. Zardon grounded a ball to the shortstop’s right and he took the force at third rather than try for a 4-6-3 double play. Big mistake. Zardon is not swift (as you will see later) and probably could have been doubled up.
Matos crushed a ball deep into the right center field gap that was just out of the center fielder’s reach. Probably could have been a triple, but even with two outs Zardon only made it to third. But we had our first run of the series. The Cardinals brought in a reliever to face Ortiz. He smashed a ground ball to the second baseman’s right that he couldn’t get to. But, he got enough leather on the ball to slow it so that it died in shallow right. Both runners scored, and the Phillies had the lead.
Fanti retired six of the next seven batters taking the Phillies to the top of the eighth with the lead. He picked up his 6th strike out, swinging of course. And got three fly balls to Ortiz who displayed his range – left, right, and back.
(Side bar: Jhailyn has a strong arm and seems to be looking for an opportunity to show it. He threw to first behind a runner who had singled during Sunday’s game. And, he continues to challenge runners as the coast into and/or round second base. He’s going to get one, one of these days.)
Back to Fanti. The only base runner he allowed in his final two innings came on an infielder’s error. He has good movement on his fastball (it always seems to be dropping under bats) and a good curve that works at this level (his favorite pitch). His fastball was 87-89 mph, but there is room for growth. I envision him gaining velocity as he continues to strengthen his legs and drives off the rubber stronger.
The Phillies kept putting runners on base, two each in the sixth and seventh, but failed to tack on insurance runs.
Fanti answered the bell in the eighth inning and gave up a double between Rivas and the third base bag (What? Where’s the no doubles defense?) The Cardinals made another mistake when the runner tried to take third on a ground ball to Stobbe. The fielder’s choice left a runner on first with one out, and signaled the end of Nick’s day.
Randy Alcantara relieved and gave up a single before getting an inning-ending double play to escape the eighth. Cole Stobbe fielded the ball near the second base bag, touched the bag, and fired to Danny Zardon to complete the the play.
Jose Nin came on to close out the Cards, but gave raised us to a level of excitement that we could have done without. He gave up a single and got a line drive to Stobbe to start the inning. Another single pushed the tying run to second but kept a double play active. However, a wild pitch ended that. The next batter was walked intentionally to set up the double play again. (We’ve seen this numerous times, and really, how often does it work for a team that a Phillies’ fan roots for?) Well, Nin got a ground ball, Stobbe to Brito to Zardon, and the game ended as the would-be tying run crossed the plate.
Great game. Kyle Young takes the mound tomorrow. He hasn’t been asked to pitch five innings, yet. He’s been lifted after 4.o in his two starts, and pitched 4.1 in relief as the first pitcher in the restart of a suspended game. A lot of arms will be rested and ready. Expect “all hands on deck” except for Fanti, Gowdy, and Llovera. I think Sanchez is equally unlikely (however, he was charting with Young today, and that’s usually sign of impending availability). Look for Carrasco and Stewart to be added to the stable of bull pen arms.
Game photos are below. Some by me, the four good ones by Joe Kuhn.
- Daniel Brito went 2-4
- Josh Stephen went 1-3 with a run scored and BB
- Danny Zardon went 1-4 with a run scored
- Malvin Matos went 1-2 with a double, run scored, RBI, and 2 BB
- Jhailyn Ortiz went 3-4 with 2 RBI
- Lenin Rodriguez (DH) went 0-4
- Cole Stobbe went 0-4
- Nerluis Martinez went 1-3 with a BB
- Raul Rivas went 1-4
- Kevin Gowdy – 2.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
- Nick Fanti – 5.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K
- Randy Alcantara – 0.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
- Jose Nin – 1.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB (IBB), 1 WP, 0 K
Lehigh Valley (85-58, 0-0) begins a best of five series against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders on Wednesday at home. Games one and two will be at Coca-Cola Park. Games three thru five (if necessary) will be at Scranton.
- Wednesday, September 7th: v. Scranton, 7:05 PM – Ben Lively
- Thursday, September 8th: v. Scranton, 7:05 PM – Anthony Vasquez
- Friday, September 9th: @ Scranton, 6:35 PM – Phil Klein
- Saturday, September 10th: @ Scranton, 6:35 PM – David Buchanan (if necessary)
- Sunday, September 11th: @ Scranton, 1:05 PM – Nick Pivetta (if necessary)
Reading (89-52, 0-0) begins a best of five series against the Trenton Thunder on Wednesday on the road. Games one and two will be in Trenton. Games three thru five (if necessary) will be at First Energy Stadium.
- Wednesday, September 7th: @ Trenton, 7:00 PM – Mark Leiter
- Thursday, September 8th: @ Trenton, 7:00 PM – Ricardo Pinto
- Friday, September 9th: v. Trenton, 7:05 PM – Elniery Garcia
- Saturday, September 10th: v. Trenton, 7:05 PM – Tyler Viza (if necessary)
- Sunday, September 11th: v. Trenton, 6:05 PM – John Richy (if necessary)
Lakewood (74-65, 0-0) begins a best of three series against the Hagerstown Suns on Wednesday at home. Game one will be at First Energy Park. Game two and three (if necessary) will be in Hagerstown.
- Wednesday, September 7th: v. Hagerstown, 7:05 PM – Alberto Tirado
- Thursday, September 8th: no game scheduled
- Friday, September 9th: @ Hagerstown, 7:05 PM – Jose Taveras
- Saturday, September 10th: @ Hagerstown, 7:05 PM – Franklyn Kilome (if necessary)
- 9/6 – Reading placed LHP Joey DeNato on the reserve list.
- 9/6 – SS Angelo Mora assigned to Lehigh Valley from Reading.
- 9/6 – Elniery Garcia assigned to Reading from Clearwater.
- 9/6 – LHP Hoby Milner assigned to Reading from Lehigh Valley.
- 9/6 – RHP Gregory Infante assigned to Lehigh Valley from Reading.
- 9/6 – Malquin Canelo assigned to Reading from Clearwater.
- Organization Rosters are up to date.
Three shots of Kevin Gowdy.
A couple dugout shots.
A bunch of Fanti shots.
Matos and Ortiz driving in our runs.
Nin throwing the last pitch.