BOSTON -- Ahead of the Phillies’ series vs. the Red Sox this weekend, manager Joe Girardi used the word “resilient” to describe his ballclub in the first half of the season.
“I think it’s [that] they play hard,” Girardi said. “They fight, they fight, they fight. They never give up and that’s what stands out about this club to me.”
And fight they did on Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park, in an 11-2 statement win over the Red Sox to even the series with one game remaining ahead of the All-Star break. The group effort comes on the heels of a loss in which the roles (and score) were nearly reversed.
“We lose a game last night where we got behind and we just weren't able to get back,” Girardi said after the win. “Jean [Segura] gets us going with a real long at-bat. He fouls some pitches off, and he hits a long home run and just kind of gave us a little momentum going into the day. And I thought Matty Moore did a good job battling through that start, and Héctor [Neris] got a huge out in the fifth. … Big contributions up and down the lineup.”
Segura followed his leadoff triple on Friday with a leadoff homer over the Monster to start things off on Saturday. Alec Bohm added his first Fenway Park homer, giving the Phillies a 3-0 cushion in the second with a two-run shot. In the eighth inning, Didi Gregorius came in to pinch-hit for Bohm, who left the game due to COVID-19 protocols, Girardi said.
The heavy damage was done late in the game, with the Phils batting around in an eight-run eighth inning.
“A lot of times when you score five runs, you’re going to win,” Girardi said. “But against this offense, you know what they have. I think a lot of times you have to score more, and we were able to do that today.”
Moore grinded through 4 1/3 innings, with his one blemish coming on a solo shot by Xander Bogaerts in the second inning. (An errant pickoff attempt by Andrew Knapp allowed a run to score in the third.) Boston’s shortstop has long been a thorn in Moore’s side, entering Saturday a .500 hitter (six hits, one homer, two doubles and four RBIs) in 14 plate appearances vs. the lefty.
A day after using four relievers and a position player to weather the storm that was Boston’s offense (11 runs on 14 hits), Girardi knew he had Bailey Falter rested to give him innings on Saturday if needed. The rookie southpaw gave the Phils two clean innings before handing the ball to JD Hammer, who was called up from Triple-A Lehigh Valley ahead of the game.
It was Boston instead who had to dip deep into its ‘pen on Saturday, after starter Martín Pérez was chased in the fourth, needing 73 pitches to get through 3 2/3 innings. Five Philly batters put up a multi-hit game, including a 2-for-5 day for DH J.T. Realmuto, who will start as the National League’s catcher in the MLB All-Star Game presented by Mastercard on Tuesday.
“To me what’s more impressive is to hold them to two runs,” Girardi said. “That’s not an offense that, you know, doesn’t usually score runs. I thought our pitchers did an outstanding job, I think Andrew Knapp did an outstanding job back there, and that’s the important thing.”
The two runs on four hits is especially impressive when you consider Boston entered Saturday averaging 5.15 runs per game, the third-best mark in the Majors. With two outs and runners in scoring position, the Red Sox entered the day leading the Majors in average, slugging and OPS. On Saturday, the Sox went 0-for-6 in all RISP situations, leaving seven on base.
Almost lost in the shuffle was a clean outing from Neris, who has been climbing his way back after losing the closer role late last month. Neris took over for Moore in the fifth inning, needing just three pitches to induce a double play and get the Phillies out of the inning. Saturday’s scoreless appearance marked the third in a row for the righty reliever.
“You know, his last few outings, he’s thrown the ball pretty well,” Girardi said. “You know Héctor seems to go through this every year, and he went through it last year for us and he came back and down the stretch and got some of the most important outs. Him and Connor Brogdon last year for us, and I put Héctor in the toughest situations. I think he’s responded really well, I think he’s throwing the ball better and I look forward to it continuing.”
With the series on the line and a chance to get to .500 for the first time since June 19, the Phillies send Aaron Nola to the hill on Sunday in their final game before the All-Star break.