PHILADELPHIA -- Scott Kingery needed this. The Phillies needed this.Kingery homered for the first time in more than two months on Tuesday night, when he ripped a three-run home run to left-center field in the first inning of a 5-4 victory over the Rockies at Citizens Bank Park. It had
PHILADELPHIA -- Scott Kingery needed this. The Phillies needed this.
Kingery homered for the first time in more than two months on Tuesday night, when he ripped a three-run home run to left-center field in the first inning of a 5-4 victory over the Rockies at Citizens Bank Park. It had been nearly a month since the Phillies won consecutive games, but they enjoyed back-to-back victories for the first time since a three-game winning streak May 13-17, although the bullpen allowed three runs in the ninth to nearly let it slip through their fingers.
"That is a long time," Phillies ace Aaron Nola said. "It's good to get back on the winning train."
Kingery helped Nola, who allowed just one run and struck out 10 in 6 2/3 innings in another masterful performance. Kingery not only hit a 1-2, 97-mph fastball off Rockies starter Jon Gray in the first inning for the three-run homer to hand the Phillies a 3-0 lead -- it was Kingery's first homer since April 10 -- but he also ripped a sacrifice fly to center field in the third to make it 4-0.
"For me, it's all been about baby steps," Kingery said. "It's been a process. Every single day, it feels better. Hopefully, I can just keep it going."
Kingery entered the season with a $24 million contract and plenty of hype, despite having not spent a day in the big leagues. He then hit .280 with seven doubles, two home runs, 12 RBIs, two stolen bases and an .855 OPS in 54 plate appearances through April 15 and looked like a National League Rookie of the Year candidate.
Kingery then sunk into a deep two-month slump. He entered Tuesday hitting .189 with six doubles, one triple, four RBIs, three stolen bases and a .498 OPS in 161 plate appearances from April 16 through Sunday.
Kingery had been chasing too many balls out of the strike zone. His chase rate (35.7 percent) ranked 35th out of 305 batters in baseball (minimum 200 pitches), and he had not been making enough solid contact. But Kingery's homer left his bat at 106.2 mph, making it his fifth-hardest hit of the season as projected by Statcast™. The sac fly flew at 102.2 mph, also one of his hardest-hit balls in play. Perhaps they are signs of better days to come.
"It has been a long ride for him, although we have been seeing signs of Scotty from early April and Spring Training emerging," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. "His swings have gotten better, the takes have gotten better and there has been less check swings and less lack of certainty at the plate. He just looks calmer and he has for several days now or maybe even weeks."
It seems Nola, however, has looked this way forever. He stranded a runner on third in the first, a runner on second in the third and a runner on third in the fifth. The Rockies simply could not come up with the big hit.
"Nola was so good," Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu said. "I think we were just ready to see some new pitchers."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
'E' escapes jam: Kapler pulled Nola with runners at the corners, two outs and 108 pitches in the seventh inning. Edubray Ramos threw the first batter he faced, Tom Murphy, a first-pitch slider, which he singled to center to score a run and cut the Phillies' lead to 4-1. Ramos then struck out left-handed pinch-hitter Ryan McMahon swinging on a 1-2 slider to end the inning. The Phillies right-hander entered the game with a .137 opponents slugging percentage against the slider, the lowest mark out of 58 pitchers in baseball (minimum 50 plate appearances against the pitch).
Seranthony saves the day:Luis Garcia allowed four consecutive singles to start the ninth inning, forcing the Phillies to summon Seranthony Dominguez from the bullpen with the bases loaded and no outs in a three-run game. Dominguez allowed a single and a sacrifice fly to make it a one-run game, but Aaron Altherr caught a Charlie Blackmon line drive in right field for the second out. Dominguez then struck out Nolan Arenado swinging to end the game.
"I mean, he throws 99 mph with a slider, so he matches up pretty well against a lot of people," Kapler said about Garcia starting the ninth. "Because he hasn't had a lot of success in recent days doesn't mean we're going to go away from him. We have to maintain faith and confidence in our guys with big electric stuff, and that's basically what we've done."
The Phillies have three players with 36 or more walks: Cesar Hernandez (44), Carlos Santana (44) and Rhys Hoskins (36). No team in baseball had more than one player with 35 or more free passes. Fourteen teams had none.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
The Rockies had a runner on third with one out in the first inning, when Arenado hit a ball between third baseman J.P. Crawford and Kingery. Crawford missed the ball, but Kingery stepped in behind him and made the throw to first, recording the second out and keeping LeMahieu at third.
HE SAID IT
"I thought the play that [Altherr] made on Blackmon's liner was sensational, obviously a game-saver there. Certainly, Seranthony is not going to induce a weak ground ball every time the ball leaves his hand. Every once in a while, they're going to get the fat part of the bat on the ball. We have to remember that. We can't just expect nothing but strikeouts and pop ups." -- Kapler, on Altherr's running catch in the ninth inning
Phillies right-hander Nick Pivetta (4-5, 3.76 ERA) faces Rockies left-hander Tyler Anderson (3-1, 4.81) on Wednesday night in the second game of a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park at 7:05 p.m. ET. Pivetta has thrived in Philadelphia this season while struggling on the road. He has a 2.20 ERA in seven home starts and a 6.23 ERA on the road. Pivetta has taken the loss in each of his last three outings.
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.