PHILADELPHIA – Andrew McCutcheon, Jean Segura and Bryce Harper are hired guns added to make the Phillies a “Phorce” again.
Thanks to a much more threatening lineup, Philadelphia rolled into Saturday’s game against the Twins with a plus-23 run differential, second-best in the majors.
But the Twins pitching staff, from starter Michael Pineda to closer Blake Parker, had a cure for Philadelphia fever while carrying their team to a 6-2 victory in front of a sellout crowd announced at 44,693 at Citizens Bank Park.
That fever released certain emotions from an in-your-face fan base.
“This is a fun place to play right now,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “The atmosphere is good. The fans are certainly into the game and paying attention to everything going on. They have a very good team. There’s reason to be excited in this city.
“But it makes it good for us to also go on the road and play in environments like this. It really locks you in, and that energy does change the game sometimes.”
Byron Buxton manufactured a third-inning run off Jake Arrieta — he singled, stole second, went to third on Pineda’s groundout and scored on a two-out wild pitch — before Max Kepler and Willians Astudillo followed with back-to-back home runs. With the Twins nursing a 3-2 lead in the ninth inning, Eddie Rosario’s three-run blast off a Seranthony Dominguez fastball clocked at 95 miles per hour was the finishing stroke.
Pineda led a pitching staff that stopped the Phillies from scoring at least five runs for the first time this young season. McCutchen, Segura and Harper were 4-for-11 with a run scored, so they were slowed down more than shut down. But it worked on Saturday. Pineda struck out Harper in the $330 million outfielder’s first two at-bats.
“When I go to the mound, I’m trying to do my best, you know?” said Pineda, who earned his first major league victory since June 30, 2017. “And I know this is a really good team and they have really good hitters, and I’m a very aggressive pitcher, but when I’m standing on the mound, I try to live for the situation.
“If they’re very aggressive, I want to throw my best pitches, especially starting the count. That’s what I tried to do today, and it worked.”
Staked to a 3-0 lead in third, Pineda retired 10 of 11 batters at one point. He was removed after giving up a leadoff single to Segura in the sixth with Harper at the plate, and Segura eventually scored on Odubel Herrera’s sacrifice fly that got the Phillies within 3-2.
Pineda gave up two runs over five innings on four hits and one walk with five strikeouts. Rhys Hoskins’ fourth-inning home run was the first run against Pineda this season.
Adalberto Mejia replaced Pineda and gave up a single to Harper and walked Hoskins, loading the bases with no one out. Following Herrera’s sacrifice fly, Cesar Hernandez hit a fly ball to center field and Harper attempted to tag from third. Byron Buxton’s throw was in time, and Harper attempted to hurdle Astudillo while trying to score. The Twins catcher tagged Harper before falling over.
“I knew he was running,” Buxton said, “so you try to get the throw as close as possible.”
Trevor Hildenberger, Taylor Rogers and Blake Parker followed with scoreless outings, with Rogers pitching a scoreless eighth after the Phillies loaded the bases with two out. Parker followed with a 1-2-3 ninth. It was like Friday night’s 10-4 loss to Philadelphia never happened.
“You didn’t hear one word about it when we walked in here this morning,” Buxton said. “New day. That’s what it takes. You turn the page. You worry about trying to help us win the next day, and that’s what we did today and had a lot of fun.”