Power arms & bats give Phils second straight win

Power arms & bats give Phils second straight win

August 20, 2013, 12:00 am
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John Mayberry Jr. is greeted at home plate after his three-run homer in the fourth inning of the Phillies' 5-4 win over the Rockies. (USA Today Images)


The power went on at Citizens Bank Park on Monday night.

John Mayberry Jr. belted a three-run home run and Carlos Ruiz added a solo shot in the Phillies’ 5-4 win over the Colorado Rockies (see Instant Replay).

The power didn’t stop in the batter’s box.

Starting pitcher Ethan Martin’s fastball was hitting 95 mph early in the game, and later on reliever Jake Diekman flashed a pair of 99s.

That’s Billy Wagner territory.

Power bats. Power arms. It’s a pretty good combination and it helped the Phillies win consecutive games for the first time in a month.

The Phils are 2-2 under interim manager Ryne Sandberg. He will get the job full-time if the club continues to show the life it did in this game.

The game’s high point came in the eighth inning when Sandberg brought Diekman into a one-run game to face possible future Hall of Famer Todd Helton with one out and men on first and second.

Diekman is a left-handed reliever that brings to mind the old baseball adage about nice guys. You like them to marry your daughter, but you don’t necessarily want them on the field during crunch time when a little nastiness comes in handy. Diekman is as nice a guy as there is in that clubhouse, but he doesn’t have much pit bull in him. He often looks a little nervous on the mound.

But against Helton, Diekman turned into a pit bull. He attacked Helton and struck him out on three pitches -- slider, fastball (96), fastball (98). That’s three major-league pitches if Diekman can command them.

After the game, Diekman was hilarious talking about facing Helton. His first thought about the assignment was:

“Holy crap,” he said.

And after the strikeout?

“It was good,” he said. “It was a big point in the game.”

Diekman thought he’d be out of the game after getting the lefty-hitting Helton, but this is “find out” time for Phillies officials -- they’re trying to find out who might be able to help next season -- so Sandberg stuck with Diekman as right-handed hitting Nolan Arenado came to the plate.

Diekman had a little mishap as he faced Arenado. He balked on the 1-2 pitch, then came back with some anger and fired two 99-mph pitches, the second of which was strike three.

“Diekman really preserved the game,” Sandberg said.

Sandberg said he didn’t know that Diekman had a 99-mph fastball in there.

Bullpen mate Justin De Fratus, who came up in the Phils’ system with Diekman, knew his pal had that type of heat.

“I’ve seen it,” De Fratus said. “It’s in there. He threw the hell out of it. Don’t be surprised if you see triple digits out of him.”

A reporter joked that Diekman should pay off the radar gun man and get that one more tick for 100 mph. The idea sounded appealing to Diekman.

“It’s just one guy behind home plate, right?” he said.

De Fratus also got two outs with two runners on base. Jonathan Papelbon completed the bullpen’s strong night with his first save since July 11.

De Fratus and Diekman are two of many players trying to open eyes for next season. They did in this game.

“You put them in opportunities like tonight and let them learn from it,” Sandberg said. “When they do what they did tonight it’s a huge boost for their confidence.”

Luis Garcia provided the only blemish on the bullpen’s record in the game. He allowed two runs in the eighth, but his troubles set up a meat-grinder situation that proved to be a good experience for Diekman.

Martin did a good job keeping his pitch count in check early and pitched into the seventh inning. It was the first time he went past the fifth in four big-league starts. Martin allowed four hits and two walks. He struck out six. He did not give up a run until Troy Tulowitzki smacked a hanging breaking ball into the left-field seats to lead off the seventh.

“He looked nice and calm out there,” Sandberg said of Martin. “He mixed his pitches, which is important for him. He wasn’t just relying on his fastball.”