Phils rally in ninth, win on walk-off double
Pinch-hitter Frandsen delivers big hit with bases loaded and two outs
PHILADELPHIA -- It is a good thing Kevin Frandsen can watch the replay, because everything that happened in those memorable moments is a blur.
He stepped into the batter's box in the bottom of the ninth inning Saturday at Citizens Bank Park with the bases loaded, two outs and an opportunity to give the Phillies a desperately needed victory. He had just watched Royals closer Greg Holland walk the bases loaded only to strike out Domonic Brown and John Mayberry Jr. on seven pitches. Holland had started Brown and Mayberry with fastballs, so Frandsen figured he might get one, too.
The pitch? It is a bit fuzzy, but Frandsen smoked a 96 mph fastball over the outer half of the plate into the gap in right-center field to clear the bases and give the Phillies a 4-3 victory.
"I don't know," Frandsen said about the pitch location. "It's not being an idiot, he just threw it and I hit it. I had my head down. I feel when you're not locked in to a game, you don't want to pull off or any of that stuff."
The ball? Frandsen swore he did not know where the ball was headed until he noticed the outfielders running toward it.
The aftermath? He remembers Ryan Howard lumbering toward him after Michael Young slid home safely to score the winning run. Frandsen believes he sidestepped Howard, but everybody else eventually got him in the pile on the infield. He also recalled looking into the stands to find his parents, David and Tracie, who were in attendance to celebrate his spot on his first Opening Day roster since 2007.
He isn't sure if he found them or not. It was pretty crazy on the field.
"You know, when you see Ryan Howard running at you full speed, that's kind of weird," Frandsen said. "You kind of get scared. It's like you want to jump over the pile. It's a surreal moment, because it's never happened in the big leagues for me. It's one that you hope you can repeat over and over again, but the opportunities are few and far between for those chances right there. It's a great feeling. I was shaking for a while just because of the adrenaline rush. Mom and dad are here from California, so that was even better."
It was just the fifth game of the season, but don't let anybody fool you: The Phillies needed this victory badly. They got clobbered in their home opener Friday against the Royals and had just two hits in 14 innings before Frandsen's double. If they had lost they would have been staring a possible 1-5 start in the face.
Instead, they can pull even at 3-3 with a victory Sunday.
The Phillies were due when fortune found them in the ninth. Chase Utley worked a leadoff walk. Howard followed with a walk of his own to put runners on first and second with no outs. Holland then ran a 3-1 count to Young, who fouled back the next two pitches before also walking to load the bases.
Brown struck out on three pitches for the first out and Mayberry struck out looking on four pitches for the second out.
Would they really not take advantage here? Would it be more of the same?
Frandsen ensured it would not.
"It's huge," left-hander John Lannan said. "It's still early and wins are wins, but you can't look too much into the first five. You have to look at the big picture, and if everyone does their job it's all going to work out."
Lannan did his job. He allowed five hits, three runs and struck out five in seven innings during his Phillies debut. It was just the team's second quality start in five games.
"That's what I'm trying to do every time," Lannan said. "Sometimes I throw too many pitches, but tonight I was able to stay down in the zone and [catcher Humberto] Quintero did a good job mixing it up. My goal in every start out there is to try to keep the team in the ball game."
Mike Adams and Antonio Bastardo each threw a scoreless inning to put the Phillies within striking distance in the ninth.
It is worth noting that the Phillies had a decision to make in Spring Training. They chose both Frandsen and Freddy Galvis to be their utility infielders over Yuniesky Betancourt and either Frandsen or Galvis. Phillies manager Charlie Manuel recalled those roster meetings in Spring Training after the game, and why Frandsen ultimately earned one of the two spots.
"He showed us that he could hit," Manuel said. "There tonight, if I was thinking home run I would probably send [Erik] Kratz up there. But I thought that we needed to tie up the game and a ball in the gap might win it for us, and it did. Frandsen, he's a good hitter."