Bullpen? Bullpen? Shelby Miller don’t need no stinking bullpen!
It was a masterful performance. He threw just 99 pitches: 75 strikes, 24 balls. He walked a man and gave up two singles and an opposite-field double to Ryan Howard (it might have been a homer in a bandbox stadium) — and that was really it. No Phillie reached third base. Including the man he walked, Shelby only went to a three-ball count three times all night. He struck out eight, including the last batter, Howard, who just couldn’t catch up to 96-mile-an-hour gas. The kid’s a ballplayer.
The offense looked good, obviously. It was a sign of the Phillies’ ineptitude that the Braves managed to score nine runs despite grounding into three double plays, and despite leaving men in scoring position in the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th innings, including leaving men on 2nd and third in the 6th and leaving the bases loaded in the 7th.
Probably the biggest play of the game was one of the ugliest errors you’ll see. In the fourth inning, with the Braves already up 2-0 after a Freddie Freeman homer in the first, the Braves got consecutive singles to open the inning. Then Jonny Gomes hit a sharp ground ball right at third baseman Cody Asche. It should have been a tailor-made double play. But Asche ole’d it, the ball went under his glove, a man scored, and there was still nobody out. That probably took some wind out of the sails of pitcher Chad Billingsley — who was making his first big league appearance in more than two years — because he gave up a three-run homer to the next batter, Kelly Johnson.
It really wasn’t much of a game after that, though the Braves managed to tack on three more runs in the 7th when Dustin McGowan decided to walk the ballpark and Ryne Sandberg decided to let him keep doing it.
That was fun! Let’s do it again.