Jonathan Papelbon and Domonic Brown are two of the few Phillies feel-good stories of the 2013 season.
The Phillies' closer was perfect in 2013 until he blew his first save of the season against the Washington Nationals Monday night.
However, Brown, who has finally come of age, bailed out Papelbon by swatting a two-out, game-winning single in the bottom of the ninth to lead the Phillies to a 5-4 victory.
The hit was against hard-throwing, left-handed Nationals reliever Fernando Abad. Impressive work by Brown, who has been in a mini-funk after winning NL Player of the Month hardware for a tremendous month of May.
“It’s big, it’s good what he did,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said of Brown. “He stayed on the lefty and we got the right results.”
After becoming the first hitter in major league history to hit more than double-digit homers in a month without drawing a walk, Manuel noted that hurlers are pitching Brown differently.
“They’ve been throwing him hard stuff in and other stuff off the plate. But he’s alright. He’ll be fine,” Manuel said.
Brown, who has 49 RBI, was sky high while speaking about the first walk-off hit of his MLB career.
“It’s great,” Brown said. “It’s an unbelievable feeling.”
Brown was unstoppable in May and now the Phillies' cleanup hitter also appears to be getting into a groove. Even with his sore knee, Ryan Howard seems to be finding his stroke. Howard hit a titanic 430-foot homer and went 3-3 against the Nationals Monday night.
Before the game Manuel stressed that he’s not worried about Howard. In fact, Manuel believes the "Big Piece" is about to get into one of his grooves. The hitting guru appears to know what he’s talking about, since Howard is hitting through the shift.
Howard is having a very good month so far. He’s hitting .346 with 10 RBI and has a .452 on base percentage.
“He is staying on the ball and he’s putting the fat part of the bat on it and he’s hitting it hard,” Manuel said. “He got it up in the air and out.”
John Lannan made his first start in two months and almost beat his former team. Lannan, who threw 92 pitches, could only go five innings after getting mired in one deep count after another. However, Lannan didn’t pitch badly. He gave up six hits and two runs.
“He did a good job, especially for his first time back,” Manuel said. “He went deeper than we probably thought he’d go.”
Mike Stutes impressed by retiring all six batters he faced in a pair of scoreless innings.