CINCINNATI — This is kind of how a front office draws it up when it adds talent at the trade deadline.
Three of the Phillies’ recent additions delivered nicely in an important 4-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on Monday night.
Noah Syndergaard pitched seven-plus innings of three-run ball and did not walk a batter.
David Robertson got three huge outs after the Reds made it a one-run game and things got nervous in the eighth.
And Edmundo Sosa was the offensive and defensive star of the game with three RBIs and two eye-popping plays behind Syndergaard at third base.
“All of those guys played well,” manager Rob Thomson said. “Syndergaard, his stuff keeps getting better. He threw all kinds of strikes. Robertson was tremendous. He’s been in all those big moments, playoffs, World Series. When you have a guy like that, it settles everyone down. And Sosa made some tremendous plays.”
Syndergaard and Robertson were both acquired by the Phillies hours before the August 2 trade deadline. Sosa came over a few days earlier in a deal with St. Louis. The Phillies targeted him as a utility infielder who could play strong defense off the bench late in games or in spot starts.
Looking to get as many right-handed bats in the lineup as possible against Cincinnati lefty Mike Minor, Thomson used Alec Bohm as the designated hitter and played Sosa at third. The move paid off offensively and defensively.
Sosa had a two-run single in the third inning and an RBI double in the fifth. Both hits came against Minor.
All four of the Phillies’ runs came with two outs.
The win improved the Phillies to 64-51 and got them back on track after being shut out two days in a row by the Mets in New York. The Phils are in control of the second NL wild-card spot, a half-game up on San Diego.
Syndergaard, who made 15 starts with the Angels before being acquired for Mickey Moniak and minor-league outfielder Jadiel Sanchez, is now 2-0 in three starts with the Phillies, and most importantly, the club has been victorious in all three.
“It’s an awesome feeling,” Syndergaard said. “It’s awesome to be part of this team and I look forward to the journey.”
Syndergaard missed the 2020 season and most of the 2021 season due to an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. He signed with the Angels in November and that club gave him extra time between starts as he continued his recovery.
Monday night’s start against the Reds marked the first time this season that the right-hander pitched on four days’ rest. He liked it. There were no issues. He shined.
Syndergaard’s economy of pitches was excellent. He threw just 71 in getting through seven innings and 58 were strikes. He allowed two runs in the second inning and a leadoff homer in the bottom of the eighth before Thomson went to Robertson. Seranthony Dominguez pitched the ninth and got the save.
Syndergaard finished his outing with just 77 pitches. He threw just 16 balls. He scattered eight hits and struck out six. He threw a first-pitch strike to 24 of 28 hitters.
“That’s the most important part of winning the battle with the hitter, getting ahead and staying ahead,” he said. “A scout came to my house when I was 17 and asked me what the most important pitch in baseball was. I said, ‘Fastball? Changeup?’ He said, ‘No, strike 1.’ So that’s something I take pride in.”
Syndergaard is loving life as a Phillie. He has quickly bonded with pitching coaches Caleb Cotham and Brian Kaplan. Syndergaard tinkered with his delivery as an Angel. He believes he was trying to reinvent himself post-surgery. Cotham and Kaplan convinced him to simplify the delivery. Syndergaard likes the results.
“Lift (the left leg) and go, let my athleticism take over and don’t make it harder than it is,” he said of his delivery tweak. “The strides I’ve made in two rotation turns with Caleb and Kap have been amazing. I’ve never had more confidence on the mound this year and it shows in my stuff and ability to make pitches.”
Minor, who started for Cincinnati, is a pitcher who had been linked to the Phillies for years as a potential trade or free-agent target. The 34-year-old lefty entered the game with a 6.24 ERA in 12 starts and that was a welcome sight for the Phillies, who had faced some microscopic ERAs in their previous five games.
In order, the Phillies faced Sandy Alcantara (2.01), Edward Cabrera (2.05), Max Scherzer (1.93), Jacob deGrom (1.62) and Chris Bassitt (3.27) in their previous five games. They lost three of those games, all by shutout.
The Phils rallied for three two-out runs against Minor in the third inning. Nick Castellanos knocked in one and Sosa delivered the other two.
After two straight shutouts in New York, the rally was like a burden being lifted from the bat rack. The Phillies will look to make it two in a row over the Reds behind Kyle Gibson on Tuesday night.
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