The Phillies marked Retro Weekend by wearing throwback uniforms from the 1970s. Mike Schmidt and Greg Luzinski threw out ceremonial first pitches on Sunday afternoon.
As it turned out, the Phillies pushed the clock back with their play in Sunday’s game, but not all the way to the ‘70s. They looked like one of those teams that racked up five NL East championships and a World Series title from 2007 to 2011. Those teams had hitters at the top of the lineup and mashers in the middle — just what the Phillies had in beating the Milwaukee Brewers, 8-1, at Citizens Bank Park on Sunday (see Instant Replay).
Odubel Herrera had four hits out of the leadoff hole and No. 2 man Freddy Galvis moved runners, including one from third base to home plate. Three-hole hitter Maikel Franco homered, cleanup man Tommy Joseph just missed a homer in a two-hit, RBI performance, No. 5 hitter Jimmy Paredes clubbed a three-run homer and No. 6 hitter Cameron Rupp a solo shot.
“That’s what we’ve been talking about,” manager Pete Mackanin said. “When a pitcher gets a ball up in the zone we want to attack it. Up until today we haven’t seen a lot of that. Hopefully this is the start of something for us.”
For the sake of perspective, Sunday’s eight-run eruption — the Phils entered the game averaging just 3.14 runs per game — didn’t come against the Chicago Cubs, who arrive in Philadelphia on Monday. But the starved-for-offense Phillies weren’t about to throw it back because it came against a sub-.500 club. Heck, they scored more than three runs in an inning for the first time this season.
It only took 57 games.
“Larry Bowa mentioned that before the game,” Mackanin said with a laugh. “When that four went up, (catching instructor John) McLaren let Bo have it.”
Actually, the Phillies scored five runs in the fifth inning. Paredes and Rupp clubbed back-to-back homers.
Earlier in the inning, Joseph missed a three-run homer by just inches. He crushed a pitch from starter and losing pitcher Wily Peralta deep to right. The ball was initially ruled a home run, but replays showed a fan reached over the wall and it was ruled an RBI double.
Enter that Bowa guy again.
He can be rather vocal, you know.
“Once I got in the dugout, Bo had talked to the replay guy and Bo said Bo words and said that it was going to be a double so I was like, ‘All right, it was fun while it lasted,’" Joseph said with a laugh. “Just being here for a couple of weeks now I understand his language.”
Joseph is 7 for 20 with a double, a homer and two RBIs in the last five games, all starts in place of slumping Ryan Howard. Joseph will likely start again Monday as the Cubs are using a lefty starter in Jon Lester. Howard could return to the starting lineup Tuesday, but it won’t be permanent. Joseph is slowly take hold of the job.
“That’s not my decision,” Joseph said. “I’m happy to contribute, especially when we win. It’s more fun to come in the clubhouse after wins and crank up the tunes and have a good time. When I’m in the lineup, I’m ready to go. If I’m not, I’m still ready to go.”
Mackanin said his lineup would remain a day-to-day decision.
But, clearly, he likes the production he got from the middle of his lineup Sunday — and Joseph was a big part of that.
“From Day 1, he’s looked like a good hitter,” Mackanin said of Joseph. “I would love to find a middle of the order. I like what I saw today. I’d like to have a set lineup and have guys settle into certain spots. We'll have to see how it goes.”
Aaron Nola was the beneficiary of the Phillies’ eight runs Sunday. The right-hander didn’t need that many, though. He was superb in delivering six shutout innings. He walked two and struck out nine.
Nola did allow his share of base runners — he gave up eight hits — but he managed innings brilliantly and did his best pitching with his back to the wall. Six of his strikeouts came with two men on base.
“He’s got that little extra when he needs it,” pitching coach Bob McClure said. “He’s a quiet guy, but he’s one of the most competitive guys I’ve been around.”
Nola allowed at least a base runner in each inning he was in the game.
“It was a strange game,” he said. “I told the infield I was going to give them a 1-2-3 inning one time. I got in jams pretty much every inning. I battled hard and kept the team in the game, which was the important part. I had to bear down with runners in scoring position.”
Nola is 5-4 with a 2.65 ERA in 12 starts. He has a 1.68 ERA in his last nine starts. The Phillies are 7-2 in those games.
The Phillies ended up splitting the four-game series with the Brewers. Now the schedule toughens back up with six straight against a pair of first-place clubs, the Cubs and Nationals. The Phils faced both of those teams over the last 10 days and lost six straight.
“We have to be aggressive against the Cubs, like we were today,” Mackanin said. “We have to put together good at-bats.”