The box score says David Hernandez earned his first save since July 12, 2013 on Saturday night, and while that might technically be true, the real save belonged to Tyler Goeddel and Cameron Rupp.
That duo hooked up on a tremendous game-ending double play to solidify a 4-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds (see Instant Replay). It was the sizzling Phillies' third straight win and sixth in the last seven games and left them with an eye-popping 14-3 record in one run games.
The surprising Phillies have run out to a 22-15 record on the strength of pitching, defense and just enough offense. This latest victory followed the recipe perfectly with Aaron Nola recording his fifth straight strong start, Odubel Herrera driving in a couple of runs, one with a seventh-inning home run that proved huge, and Goeddel and Rupp delivering quite possibly the team's best defensive play of the season.
OK, it was the team's best defensive play of the season.
Or should we say face down?
That's how Rupp ended the game, face down at home plate and clutching the baseball after surviving a bone-rattling collision with Cincinnati's Eugenio Suarez, the potential tying run, to complete a double play after Goeddel delivered a strike from left field.
"Everything happened at one time," Rupp said afterward. "To be honest, I don't know how I caught it. It went right in my glove.
"I was thinking, ‘Hold on to that ball for dear life, don't let it go,' and whatever happens happens. Sacrifice everything. That's my plate, don't let him get to it."
The umpires reviewed the replay of the final play at the plate; there was no infraction.
"The ball took me right into where he was running," Rupp said. "I didn't think there was a reason to replay it, but it's there for them to do and they have every right to. It's nice that it stayed the same."
Goeddel, the rookie Rule 5 player, looked overmatched early in the season. In the last week, however, he's helped the Phils win three games, two with his bat and this one with a strong throwing arm. Jordan Pacheco's fly ball to left was not shallow. It was high enough that Goeddel could get behind it and use his body's momentum to launch his throw.
And he launched a beauty.
Nola, who is 3-0 with a 1.32 ERA in 34 innings over his last five starts, pitched seven strong innings. He watched Goeddel's throw on television in the trainer's room.
"I saw the ball get hit and I was, ‘Dang, that's pretty deep,' " he said. "I was like, he's got one chance. He's got to let it eat and he let it eat. Perfect throw. He couldn't have thrown it any better and I'm glad Rupp didn't get hurt and he's OK."
Rupp is a bear of man, listed at 263 pounds. Saurez is listed at 205, but he was flying down the line. The impact was significant. Rupp, a former middle linebacker, said he hadn't been hit like that since his high school football days back in Texas. He sported an abrasion on his forehead after the game, a souvenir of the big hit.
"It was fun, definitely a big adrenaline rush," Rupp said.
Goeddel had fun, too.
"The throw was right on the line, thank God, and Cam made a great play hanging on to it," he said.
Nola was twice involved in jams that could have turned ugly and both times he got strikeouts to limit the damage. An error, ironically enough by Rupp, cost him a run in the seventh. It could have been worse had he not struck out two with a pair of runners in scoring position on his way to nine strikeouts.
Nola has 58 strikeouts and just nine walks in 53 innings. His 0.85 WHIP is second-best in the NL behind Clayton Kershaw.
The Phillies got a win within a win as Mackanin was able to get back-end relievers Hector Neris and Jeanmar Gomez a night off. Andrew Bailey protected a two-run lead in the eighth. Hernandez struggled in the bottom of the ninth. He allowed three straight base runners and a run as the Reds made it a one-run game then got a huge assist from Goeddel and Rupp in earning the box score save.
"I thought there was zero chance," Hernandez said of the fly ball to Goeddel and subsequent game-ending double play.
"It was probably one of the best throws I've ever seen from the outfield. Then the fact that Rupp caught it, tagged him and held on to it. I was in the background jumping up and down. It was one of the best plays I've ever seen to end the game."
Another close game.
"We just wanted to get a better one-run victory winning percentage," Hernandez said with a laugh.