Roy Oswalt was far from unhittable tonight. In fact, he gave up a home run to Brandon Phillips, the very first batter of the game. It’s all good, though, because the Reds forgot to bring their gloves to the ballpark.
The Reds matched a Division Series record with four errors, handing the Phillies to a 7-4 victory and a 2-0 advantage in the NLDS. You wouldn’t know it, but the Reds were tied with the Padres for the least errors in the league (72) during the regular season. Going further, Brandon Phillips, Scott Rolen and Jay Bruce are three of the finest defenders in all of baseball at their respective positions, yet they all committed errors tonight. Phillips, who went 3-for-4 and finished a triple short of the cycle, had two of them.
The Phillies will gladly take it, though. Just like Chase Utley took first base against Aroldis Chapman on a questionable hit-by-pitch call by home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman in the decisive three-run seventh inning. Utley barely reacted to the pitch, so we’re not talking about a Jeter situation here, but after the game, the second baseman was pretty candid with reporters, saying he wasn’t sure if he was actually hit with the ball. That’ll happen with a 102 mph fastball, I’m sure, but replays indicate they definitely caught a break. Again, the Phillies will gladly take it.
At least the Reds get to return home for Game 3 on Sunday, but they are staring elimination in the face.
CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that Phillies outfielder Nick Williams has been working out daily with free agent starter Jake Arrieta in Austin. The right-hander, who won the 2015 National League Cy Young Award, still remains teamless with spring training less than a month away. Williams has been trying to sell Arrieta on joining the Phillies.
Williams said of Arrieta, “He loves it here [Austin]. He has told me he likes working with young guys. I’m like, ‘All right, come on up.’ But I’m not writing the check. I don’t know what he wants. I don’t really dig into that because I’m not really in his position.”
On GM Matt Klentak’s hunt for pitching help, new manager Gabe Kapler said, “The pursuit is very real. I have a lot of trust that we’ll either go in [to spring training] with a new toy or we will pass on the opportunity because we’re better off giving this collection of pitchers a really healthy look because we thought that we could go acquire that piece a little bit later on this season or in the offseason next year.”
Arrieta, who turns 32 years old in March, went 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA and a 163/55 K/BB ratio in 168 1/3 innings last season with the Cubs. The Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers have been linked to Arrieta this month.
Presently, the Phillies’ starting rotation figures to include Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Vince Velasquez along with some combination of Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Zach Eflin, Mark Leiter, and Jake Thompson. Arrieta would certainly amount to a big upgrade in the starting rotation and could make the Phillies a more attractive landing spot for Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, who become free agents after the 2018 campaign. The Phillies are expected to be in the mix for either or both players.