Phillies right-hander Connor Brogdon threw three consecutive fastballs to Dominic Smith in the seventh inning Tuesday at Citi Field.
Smith swung and missed the third one to fall behind 1-2.
Phillies catcher Andrew Knapp asked Brogdon to throw a fourth fastball with runners on first and second and two outs in a tie game in Game 1 of a seven-inning doubleheader. Brogdon stepped off the rubber. Knapp jogged to the mound. Brogdon explained that he wanted to throw back-to-back changeups instead. Smith fouled off the first one. Brogdon threw the second one for a ball.
“The first one was perfect,” Brogdon said following the Phillies’ 4-3 loss to the Mets in eight innings. “If I could have just thrown a second one just like that, I think he might have chased that for strike three, too.”
Two pitches later, Smith struck out swinging on a 96 mph fastball.
It was a huge moment for Brogdon, who showed why he is becoming one of manager Joe Girardi’s most trusted pitchers in the Phillies’ bullpen, especially while Archie Bradley is on the injured list.
“It’s a big opportunity,” Brogdon said. “This was a good, shall we say, practice round or whatever. It was a good experience, definitely. I just need to take a few more breaths next time at the beginning and I think things will be a little smoother.”
Brogdon is 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA in five appearances this season. In 5 2/3 innings, he has struck out six and allowed three hits and two walks. In 11 appearances since rejoining the Phillies last September, he is 4-0 with a 0.00 ERA. In 14 1/3 innings, he has struck out 20 and allowed four hits and four walks.
Brogdon started the seventh Tuesday by walking Luis Guillorme and hitting Kevin Pillar with a pitch. Phillies pitching coach Caleb Cotham visited the mound. Cotham asked him how it was going. Brogdon stared through him.
“I was just so focused on what I needed to get done there,” Brogdon said. “I was just taking a breather. It was probably the best thing, honestly.
“I’ve got to stay poised, take a few more breaths, I think. I think at the beginning you could tell I was pulling some fastballs quite a bit, which is not what I’m trying to do there. I think that’s just a factor of being rushed. I just need to take a few more breaths in that situation. I knew coming in how big the moment was, obviously.”
Brogdon regrouped. He struck out Brandon Nimmo swinging on a foul tip for the first out. He got Francisco Lindor to fly out to left field for the second.
Then, he got Smith.
He also got himself more opportunities in big spots.