Cliff Lee (5-7) tosses seven innings of one-run baseball to lead Phillies to seventh straight win, a 3-1 victory over the Florida Marlins. The Phils were down by just 3.5 games in the wild-card standings heading into Wednesday night’s games.
Metro beat guy Ed Condran was down at the Bank. Here’s what he saw:
1. Who is complaining about Jimmy Rollins three-year extension now?
The Phillies’ home run leader (how weird does that sound?) hit his biggest homer of the year in the seventh inning off Marlins ace Josh Johnson, who was dealing. J-Roll’s 19th blast of the year gave the Phillies a 3-1 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
2. We’re in the dark here.
The first five innings were all great pitching and shadows due to the twilight. The game started at 4:05 p.m. Cliff Lee was very good again and he actually picked up his second win at Citizens Bank Park this season. Johnson took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, but he was charged with the loss.
3. Meet the new John Mayberry.
Maybe John Mayberry Jr. should start his season in mid-July next year. For the second consecutive season, the Phillies’ center fielder has caught fire in the second half. His clutch, two-out single in the sixth knotted the game.
Young guns in the bullpen
The eighth inning has been a nightmarish frame for the Phillies this season. It’s been so bad that if the Phillies’ set-up men had held on to half the games they blew in the trouble inning during the first three months, they would be battling the Braves for the top, wild-card slot.
But the worst appears to be over. Free agent disaster Chad Qualls was traded. Aging, broken-down Jose Contreras will never throw another pitch for the Phillies. The enigmatic Antonio Bastardo seems to be finding himself.
And then there is the quartet of IronPigs. Phillippe Aumont, Justin DeFratus and Jake Diekman were each called up in September. Actually, Diekman joined the Phillies much earlier in the season, but was sent back down to Triple-A in August.
It’s a small sample set but Aumont and DeFratus have pitched well under pressure in the latter innings. DeFratus has been spotless during four appearances, while holding opponents to a .111 batting average. Aumont, who tossed a scoreless eighth in Wednesday’s 3-1 win, has a 1.08 ERA.
Diekman is the least refined of the bunch but the long, lanky southpaw has electric stuff, a funky arm angle and a 97-mph fastball.
“I like them all a lot,” Charlie Manuel said. “Diekman is going to be real good someday, you watch. I love Aumont’s size and his fastball. He’s really powerful and DeFratus is a real good pitcher.”
Perhaps DeFratus would have been up earlier this season if he didn’t re-injure his right elbow during spring training.
“That could have been the case, but it didn’t work out,” DeFratus said. “All I know is that I’m here now and I’ll do whatever I can to help out. But it’s incredibly cool to be up here with my friends. We’re all very close. We support and look out for each other.”
Aumont, who recorded a save against the Reds last week, was up and down in Lehigh Valley, but has been in a groove since arriving in the big leagues.
“I can’t put my finger on it,” Aumont said. “I just feel comfortable here. I’m really looking forward to the challenge every night.”
Manuel believes that his kiddie corps of relievers will benefit from the Phillies’ race for a playoff spot. The Phils were 3.5 games out of the final wild-card spot entering play Wednesday night.
“It’ll give them some confidence and experience,” Manuel said. “That’s a good thing.”
2013 schedule released
The Phillies’ 2013 regular season schedule has been released. The Phillies open on the road next season with a three-game series against the Atlanta Braves on April 1.
Opening Day at home is against the Kansas City Royals April 5. It’s the first time the Phillies will open play at Citizens Bank Park versus an American League team.
As far as Interleague play goes, the Phillies will play a home and home series in late May with the Boston Red Sox.
The other AL teams coming to town are the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago White Sox. The Phillies will travel to Detroit to take on the Tigers and Minnesota to battle the Twins.