Madison Bumgarner hadn't lost a game at home since April 20, a 2-1 loss at the hands of the Arizona Diamondbacks. On Saturday night in front of a packed house holding their own bobblehead versions of the Giant ace, Bumgarner was given his first loss at home in over two months. After earning four strikeouts of the looking variety the first time through the lineup, the Phillies first threatened in the fifth inning when Maikel Franco doubled to lead off the frame and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Bumgarner stranded him at third after Andres Blanco flied out to Denard Span in center, followed by groundouts to short from Cameron Rupp and Jimmy Paredes.
All seemed to be fine at AT&T Park. The Giants had enjoyed their best 40-game streak of baseball, going 31-9, since 1954 when they went 33-7 and also played ball in New York. The Phillies entered play with a 5-18 record in June and Madison Bumgarner was cruising.
Then came the seventh inning.
Again it was a leadoff double that started the inning, this time from first baseman Tommy Joseph, who was traded to Philadelphia by the Giants in order to land Hunter Pence back in 2012. Franco flied out to right for the first out of the inning, and the last one that Bumgarner would record in the game. Blanco singled up the middle to cut the Giants lead to 2-1. Then came Rupp, who unloaded on a 3-2 fastball to center which would be the game decider.
When he entered the Philadelphia clubhouse, Rupp said, "Turn that [music] up!" He was excited. The Phillies were excited. And they should be in all honesty. A rebuilding team doesn't have a lot of victories over the course of a season, so each win means a little more. As Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said after the game, "It's really nice to beat a pitcher like Bumgarner. He has good deception, and doesn't overpower you. These guys have been very vocal in the dugout. You could tell they wanted to beat this team because they're such a good team, and because the guy that was pitching is such a good pitcher. It showed me a lot. It makes you a competitor."
From what I could tell, Pete Mackanin is the perfect guy to be leading such a young club. He was joking with the media (granted it was after a win, which have been hard to come by for his team recently), and looks to have the bigger picture in mind. He was very upbeat, and the clubhouse, as evidenced by Rupp's statement as he entered, followed suit. Some teams will take losses too hard and that will create a snowball effect for the entire season, but the Phillies have enjoyed brief bursts of success and have plenty of talent in the minor leagues that should help propel this club in the coming year.
Rupp struck me as the kind of player that you'd love to have on your team. He's talkative and fun, and it may just be because he hit the game-winner, but his positive vibes were infectious. Rupp agreed with his manager's assessment of this particular victory, saying, "It's huge. Especially when the guy has dominated us for the first six innings, for us to put up a three-spot like that, we kept battling. Just a bunch of young guys finding ways to win games in different ways is gonna be good for us."
Rupp has been working on taking his batting practice approach into the games by driving the ball in the gaps. "For me, getting on first base, it takes three hits to score me. So driving the ball has been something that I'm working on."
Mackanin said of Rupp's go-ahead homer, "He crushed it."
Mackanin was also very excited about a new addition to his bullpen, Edubray Ramos, a 23-year-old Venezuelan that had only pitched one-third of an inning in the big leagues before Saturday. Ramos worked a 1-2-3 seventh, needing only ten pitches to retire the side, while striking out both Gregor Blanco and Denard Span. Following his performance, Mackanin said that he is cautiously optimistic about his newest bullpen weapon, but the excitement he showed gave away that he would love to be able to plug Ramos in to big situations as the season goes along, especially with some of the injuries that the team has been facing with their veteran relievers.
The Phillies are young, but know that a win against a good team and a good pitcher can go a long way in their development. They got that win, on the road no less, and were visibly pleased with the result. They weren't bad-mouthing anyone or proclaiming to be the best team of all time--they were having fun with the victory within the victory. It's a long season, and with the Phillies rebuild it can seem a lot longer than a typical year. Kudos to them for the win on Saturday night.