READING-Get good quality starting pitching, some effective relief, work and a couple of hits here and there, and you wind up with a couple of victories.
That's what happened to the Reading Phillies (21-31, sixth place in the Eastern League's (EL) Southern Division) when they played the Bingham-ton Mets (22-32) on the road last week. The starting pitching could not have been much better as Zach Segovia and Scott Mathie-son got wins in 3-1 and 6-2 R-Phils victories over the Mets, who were holding down last place in the EL's Northern Division. Daniel Haigwood ran into some tough luck in the rubber game of the series when he pitched brilliantly but the R-Phils lost, 1-0.
Regardless, the Read-ing starting rotation continued to impress.
Segovia (3-1, 3.00 ERA) went five innings and allowed only one run on five hits last Tuesday night.
Relievers Chris Key (0.00 ERA in two appearances) and Evan Fahrner (1-2, 3.62 ERA, two saves) no-hit the Mets over the next four innings.
Timely hitting also came into play. Center-fielder Michael Bourn (.260, 1 HR, 13 RBI) started things off with a bunt single in the first inning. Third baseman Joey Ham-mond (.233, 1HR, 8 RBI) doubled Bourn to third. Left fielder Gary Burnhan (.258, 3RBI) singled to center driving in Bourn and Hammond .
In the second, R-Phils catcher Jeff Winchester (.125, 1 HR, 3 RBI) singled. Segovia was hit by a pitch. Bourn got on base when an attempted force out a second turned into an error by Mets second baseman Wilson Batista. With the bases loaded, Ham-mond hit a sacrifice fly to center that scored Win-chester .
Mathieson (5-2, 2.97) pitched two-hit shutout ball for seven innings on Wednesday afternoon, walked only two, and struck out 11. The power-hurling right-hander struck out the side in the second and third innings. Luke Lockwood (2-2, 5.73 ERA) finished up, allowing two runs on two hits in two innings.
The Mets' runs came in the bottom of the eighth on a home run by former R-Phil outfielder Jorge Padilla.
The R-Phils used the long ball to score two runs. Michael Bourn hit his first home run of the year in the second inning, and Matt Padgett (.308, 3 HR, 6 RBI) hit his third in the third.
But, as this team was designed to do from the start, singles and doubles accounted for the rest of the scoring. In the first inning, Hammond doubled and moved third on a Bur-nham single. Padgett walked to load the bases. Angel Chavez (.220, 2 HR, 7 RBI) then singled home Hammond. First baseman Brandon Gemoll (.186, 2 RBI) drew a walk to score Burnham.
In the eighth, Gemoll again walked. Jesus Mer-chan (.263, 7 RBI) bunt-singled him to second. Pinch hitter John Castellano (.343, 4 HR, 20 RBI) singled to score Merchan.
That's playing more to the strategy the R-Phils were expected to follow from Opening Day on.
Then there are those days when the baseball gods get into a teasing mood.
That happened on Thursday.
Starter Daniel Haig-wood (1-4, 3.86 ERA) could not have pitched much better for Reading in Thursday's morning game. Haigwood went seven innings and gave up only one run on two hits while striking out seven.
The only mistake he made was a sixth inning pitch that second baseman Batista stroked to left for a home run, his second of the year. Reliever Brian Reed (0-1, 3.60 ERA, 1 save) pitched a scoreless eighth.
Mets starter Willie Collazo (4-4, 2.44 ERA) handcuffed the R-Phils on four hits over 7 2/3 innings. Reliever Matt Lindstrom pitched 1 1/3 innings for his first save and struck out four, including the side in the ninth.
It didn't help that Reading stranded nine men on base.
Sometimes you win; sometimes you lose. But the R-Phils starters are putting the EL on notice that it won't be easy to win against Reading, most of the time. Going into Thursday's game in Bing-hamton, opponents were batting only .225 against the Reading starting rotation.
Slowly, the R-Phils appear to be getting back to playing their brand of baseball: small ball with an occasional helping of power and a steady diet of quality pitching.
The R-Phils road trip continued with a weekend series in Trenton with the Thunder (June 2-4).
Next baseball action at FirstEnergy Stadium is June 6-8 vs. Binghamton and then June 9-11 with Trenton.
The annual Citizens Bank Park game takes place Monday, June 12 vs. Altoona in Philadelphia at 7:05 p.m.
On track with the R-Phils: Starter Scott Mathieson was leading the EL in innings pitched and strikeouts with 72 2/3 innings and 84 Ks...Starter Gio Gonzalez was third in strikeouts with 69 and starter Daniel Haigwood was tied for sixth with 54...As a team the R-Phils ranked ninth in hitting at .236 and eleventh in pitching with a 3.66 ERA...Starter Allen Davis was recalled to Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre...Infielder Carlos Leon went on the DL with a sprained left hand (retroactive to May 26)...Outfielder John Castellano was activated from the bereavement list...Catcher Trey Johnston was sent to extended spring training...Catcher Orlando Guevara was added from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.