Thomson's prediction of a low-scoring affair pays dividends in Phillies walk-off victory

view original post

Thomson’s prediction of a low-scoring affair pays dividends in Phillies walk-off victory originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Brewers centerfielder Blake Perkins led off the third inning of a scoreless tie with a double to right Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park. He tagged up and went to third when rightfielder Jackson Chourio flied out deep to center.

With one out and the go-ahead run 90 feet away from the plate, Phillies manager Rob Thomson brought his infield up and. . .

Wait, what? Played the infield in? In the third inning? And the score tied? When his team leads baseball in runs scored? What in the name of Wee Willie (“Hit ‘em where they ain’t”) Keeler was Thomson thinking?

Even without the benefit of a mindreader, here’s a loose translation of what the thought process could have been like:

Yeah, we’ve scored a bunch. Not so much in the last week-and-a-half, though. That’s what happens when the top six bats in your order are all cold at the same time. I trust my guys. I believe they’ll all get hot as blazes again. I just wouldn’t bet the ranch that it will happen in the next couple hours. So, since our pitching has been so good, I’m going to try to cut off this run and hope we can grind out just enough to win.

Thomson lost the battle. Milwaukee second baseman Andrew Montaserio hit a high chopper toward third with enough hang time that Alec Bohm’s only play was at first. Perkins, running on contact, scored easily.

But his instincts were dead on. It took a Nick Castellanos double in the 10th inning to lift the Phillies to a 2-1 win.

“I kind of sensed that it was going to be a low-scoring game, for whatever reason,” he said in the postgame interview room. “Just a kind of feel.”

Here are some numbers that might help explain why Thomson’s Spidey Sense told him this wasn’t going to be a shootout.

Since their 9-8 start, the Phillies have played 45 games. Eight times they’ve been held to three or fewer runs. Five of those have come in the last 11 games, in which the team is 6-5. Overall they’re 43-19, tied with the Yankees for the best record in baseball.

And the lack of punch has largely been a result of the slumping hitters at the top of the lineup. In order:

1. Kyle Schwarber is 1-for-20 (.050) in his last five games.

2. J.T. Realmuto is 4-for-29 (.138) in seven games.

3. Bryce Harper is 7-for-34 (.206) in nine games.

4. Bohm is 25-for-112 (.223) in 27 games.

5. Bryson Stott is 7-for-51 (.137) in 14 games.

6. Castellanos is hitting .214 for the season.

Bohm and Castellanos each got one hit Tuesday night. And that was just enough to eke out the win. Having a .692 winning percentage – the Phillies would win 93 games if they just play .500 the rest of the way – there’s no real pressure to make any dramatic lineup changes. Or even undramatic ones, for that matter.

Thomson did point out that if Realmuto, who took a foul tip off the cup and was involved in a home plate collision in the game, gets Wednesday off it will necessitate some change in the top two-thirds of the order.

“But I don’t think we’re at the point now where we shake it up,” he said. “I think our guys are doing okay.”