The Phillies are now atop the National League East by a game and a half over the Mets, whom they’ll send back to New York as a second-place team after Sunday’s series finale. Philadelphia’s 5-3 win on Saturday ensured that, after the Mets had held the lead since May.
Of course, being the 2021 NL East, any positivity has to be tempered with the teams involved bringing endless frustration to their fans. In the Phillies’ case on Saturday, it was a dubious piece of baseball history made by 25-year-old righty Mauricio Llovera.
Entering with a five-run lead to start the top of the ninth inning, Llovera gave up a monster home run to Michael Conforto, ending the Phillies’ bid for their first home shutout of their rivals since September 19, 2018. Then Jonathan Villar took Llovera deep to right field. Then James McCann made it back-to-back-to-back homers — and the end of Llovera’s outing.
While Ian Kennedy then came out of the bullpen to nail down the save, according to Stathead, it’s only the second time that a pitcher has ever come into a game, faced three batters, given up three homers, and peaced out — and the first time that the team whose pitcher endured a nightmare outing went on to win. The only other pitcher to give up three straight homers to the only three batters he faced was another Phillies reliever, B.J. Rosenberg, who turned a one-run deficit into four on the way to a 9-6 Philadelphia loss to Atlanta on April 14, 2014.
Rosenberg, at least, had a bit of an excuse in that then-Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg chose to use him three straight days. Still, Rosenberg only made seven more appearances in his major league career. Llovera, who hadn’t given up a homer in his previous five major league appearances, saw his ERA for this season rise from 2.25 to 9.00. It seems fairly likely that it’ll stay at 9.00 for a while now.
In Oakland, there was more baseball history, as Brock Holt threw the slowest called strike in recorded history, a wouldn’t-trigger-a-speeding-camera 31.1 mph offering.
Improving on any record by 10 percent is an incredible achievement. How do we get eephus pitches in the next Olympics?