It took a couple of miscues at third base by Cesar Hernandez on Thursday night for utility man Reid Brignac to get into the Phillies’ starting lineup for the first time.
Brignac made the most of his opportunity Friday night. His bases-loaded single in the bottom of the 14th inning snapped a tie that lasted 8½ innings and lifted the Phillies to a 6-5 victory over the New York Mets in a game that started on Friday night and ended five hours and 23 minutes later at 12:30 a.m. Saturday (see Instant Replay).
“I’m happy to come through for my teammates,” said Brignac, who was with the team in spring training and came up from Triple A earlier this month. “This is definitely one to remember for me.”
Before Friday night’s start, Brignac had just six plate appearances since joining the Phils. The walk-off hit was the second of his career. He homered to beat the Yankees when he was with Tampa Bay in 2010.
Brignac is looking for a simple return on his clutch hit.
“It just felt great to be on the field, playing the game I love,” he said. “Hopefully a night like this will get me in there tomorrow.”
Brignac’s hit came after three hitters reached base for the Phillies in the 14th against Mets closer Jenrry Mejia. Marlon Byrd opened the frame by getting to second when rightfielder Chris Young dropped a fly ball to right. The wind got pretty frisky as Friday turned into Saturday, but Young didn’t blame his costly two-base error on that.
“It was just a flub-up,” he said.
After the error, Carlos Ruiz singled and pinch-hitter Hernandez was walked intentionally. That brought Brignac to the plate for the game-ender.
“I had a good feeling,” he said. “I was confident. He threw a cutter that caught a lot of the plate and I didn’t miss it.”
The Phils' last two wins have both come in their last at-bats and both have been aided by defensive miscues by the opposition. They rallied to beat the Rockies on Wednesday night. The Rockies made two errors in the ninth before Ryan Howard’s game-winning homer.
The Phillies probably would not have won that game if it weren’t for Mike Adams’ stellar relief work. (He pitched out of Antonio Bastardo's no-outs, bases-loaded jam.) They would not have won this game without stellar work from the entire bullpen. Six relievers, capped by Justin De Fratus’ two innings, teamed to throw seven shutout innings.
“That was the key,” manager Ryne Sandberg said. “They did not give up a run and that gave us a chance.”
De Fratus got the win.
“I think this was definitely a confidence-builder for our whole bullpen,” he said.
Starter A.J. Burnett went seven innings and allowed five runs. He struck out 11, but walked six.
“The walks,” he said. “Two a game, fine, but six …”
Beleaguered leftfielder Domonic Brown paced the offense with four RBIs, three of which came on one swing at a 2-0 fastball from starter Rafael Montero in the fourth inning. Calls for Brown to be benched or even sent to the minors have grown in recent days, but Sandberg has stuck with him. Brown’s batting average dipped to .199 after he flied out in the second inning. But he rebounded with his three-run homer in the fourth. He added an RBI groundout an inning later.
“The three-run homer was big at the time,” Sandberg said. “That’s the type of swing and the type of game that can boost his confidence, something I was hoping for and looking for.”
Did Brown need a game like this?
“I don’t know,” Brown said.
(Editorial comment: He did.)
“I felt good,” Brown added. “I wasn’t over-swinging. I didn’t miss the fastball. I got into a hitter’s count and put the bat on the ball. It’s that simple.”
We’ll see if Brown can build on his success Saturday afternoon.
Sleep fast. First pitch is at 3:05 p.m.