Tonight was "bullpen night" for the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park against the NL East rival Miami Marlins. What is "bullpen night", you ask? Well, it's something Phillies fans have had to get at least somewhat used to during the second half of this season. 31-year old middle reliever Zach Miner would get the start for the Phillies, and would last only three innings while allowing no runs, something the Phillies had planned. He'd turn the ball over to another reliever after his time was done – which would repeat itself through the entire game. Miner has previous starting pitching experience with the Detroit Tigers, where he made a total of 35 starts over four seasons. Miner hadn't started a game since 2009, as he had Tommy John surgery in 2010, and hadn't pitched in the majors before this August with the Phillies.
The bullpen experiment didn't quite work tonight, as the Marlins outlasted the Phillies in 10 innings by a score of 4-3. The Phillies used seven pitchers tonight, and failed to get the win in what would have been a series sweep against the last-place Miami Marlins.
Zach Miner's opponent, Marlins starter Nathan Eovaldi, was quite serviceable this evening for the Marlins in the early innings. Through the first four innings, Eovaldi allowed just 2 hits and struck out 5. His team spotted him a 1-0 lead by the 5th inning, on an unearned run that only crossed the plate because of a Jimmy Rollins throwing error. Donovan Solano would go on to plate the run and put the Marlins on the board.
However, he ran into trouble in the home half of the fifth. Eovaldi threw a wild pitch that allowed Roger Bernadina to come home. Later in the inning, Chase Utley continued his hot streak at the plate, bringing home 2 runs on a single to right field to give the Phillies a 3-1 lead. Utley now has RBI's in 5 straight games, something he hasn't done since 2006. However, the Marlins didn't waste any time getting the game tied in the road half of the sixth, as Giancarlo Stanton crushed a hanging slider from Ethan Martin with a man on first to knot the game up at 3. The Marlins would pull Eovaldi after five innings, as he would avoid the loss because of Stanton's home run.
Both bullpens kept it quiet into the late innings. The Phillies did threaten in the 8th inning, with Domonic Brown on third, one out, and Chad Qualls on the mound. Qualls got the first two outs, then got a lot of help from Adeiny Hechavarria, on a diving stop to rob Roger Bernadina of what would have been the go ahead RBI. This was the second of two incredible plays Hechavarria made tonight.
The score would remain tied as the game moved into extra innings. Cesar Jimenez came in to pitch the top of the tenth, and gave up a solo home run to third baseman Ed Lucas. The Phillies would get runners on second and third with nobody out against Marlins closer Steve Cishek in the home half of the tenth. However, Cishek would find a way out of the jam to get the save and lead the Marlins to a series victory, salvaging the series from being a sweep.
The Phillies, who have just ten games remaining this season, fall to 71-81 with the loss. Miami moves to a still-NL worst 55-96 on the season. The Phillies get an off day tomorrow before hosting the Mets for three games over the weekend.
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