PHILADELPHIA >> J.P. Crawford was supposed to be ready to return, but since Asdrubal Cabrera had been brought in before the trade deadline, a spot had to be created. So successful starter Zach Eflin was demoted in a paper transaction, which only served to tick him and his agent off for a few days, even if he was told he’d be brought back in short order.
Meanwhile, the Phillies’ catching tandem of Jorge Alfaro and Andrew Knapp could clearly be better on both sides of the ball, so the suddenly competitive Phillies answered by trading for Wilson Ramos at the deadline. That he was hurt was only a temporary inconvenience, and Ramos was indeed ready to go in just over two weeks’ time.
But when Ramos was finally cleared to be put in the starting lineup Wednesday night against the Boston Red Sox, it meant Knapp — a friend to all Phillies pitchers, a favorite of manager Gabe Kapler — had to be shipped out. Again, temporarily, as the rosters expand in another two weeks.
Carlos Santana hadn’t been setting the offense on fire in a while, so Justin Bour was acquired in a waiver-trade move. Santana was given a spot on the bench Wednesday in favor of what Kapler is promising to be a rare Bour start. Santana was so fired up by that he came on and delivered a big pinch-hit.
Here you had an important game against America’s Team, and with the Phillies having lost four out of their previous five. And you had the likes of former Phillies rivals Ramos, Cabrera and Bour in the starting lineup.
Meanwhile, Eflin had to meet the media before the game about the controversial move he was slapped with last Friday. Crawford — still the biggest enigma this team has produced yet still hailed as the next great ... shortstop? ... third baseman? ... bench warmer? ... — was back toiling in Triple-A after spending seven weeks mending a broken hand, and only three games with the Phillies trying to mend his broken season.
And finally there was Knapp, joining Crawford in an IronPigs uniform, but probably only after watching Ramos have the debut of a lifetime for his new club.
Ramos had two doubles and a triple, three runs scored and three RBIs Wednesday night to lead the Phillies past the Boston Red Sox 7-4.
This after missing a month with a hamstring injury.
This after being traded from Tampa Bay to Philly at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, only to sit and heal while his new team continued to try to find its way through the dog days of a pennant race.
“Today is a special day; a special day for me, the Phillies debut,” Ramos said. “I’ll remember this day, I put it (as) the same as my MLB debut; 4-for-5 in my MLB debut. So this one, pretty similar. That makes me feel excited because I wanted to show everybody here what I can do.”
He had shown that to the league ever since that sparkling, four-hit major league entrance on May 2, 2010 with the Minnesota Twins.
He had shown, too, his ability to come back from a devastating knee injury near the end of the 2016 season with the Nationals. His time with Tampa last year and this season re-generated his stock, and caught the eye of the Phillies along with other potential suitors.
The payoff began Wednesday night in spectacular fashion.
“What an outing for Wilson Ramos,” Gabe gushed. “What a Phillies debut. He was simply heroic today. On the bases, at the plate, he showed that he kind of fits right in to our Phillies style of offense. Longer at-bats, ending with damage, and balls in the gap. A tremendous performance by him and I thought he was a real calming presence on our pitching staff, too.”
Not so for starter Vince Velasquez, though, as he went wild in the third inning and couldn’t escape it. Gone after 63 pitches through only 2⅔ innings, Velasquez subsequently summed it up as “kind of a bad display of pitching on my end.”
But Ramos quickly got the Phillies back on track, with a hamstring that still had to answer a comeback call. He seemed to do that in recent days, smacking three doubles in one rehab assignment game. But to surpass that effort in his first real game with his new team?
“That’s what I can do,” Ramos said. “Every time I go out there ... I go out there to do my best. That’s what I did tonight. I’m blessed from God. That’s why I’m here.”
The timing, of course, was rather heavenly.
Considering the recent moves and resultant shakeups in the Phillies clubhouse, a young team not accustomed to this kind of atmosphere — the win over the Red Sox was the Phillies’ 66th of the season, which matched their entire season victory total from 2017 — could have turned the coming days into a trying chemistry test.
Instead, Ramos magically appeared to cool everything off, including the now 86-36 Red Sox. To that record, these upstart but veteran-supported Phillies would shrug. They played the Red Sox four times this season, splitting it 2-2. Both Phillies losses were only by 2-1 scores.
“We’re just as good as they are,” Velasquez confidently claimed. “They have a solid lineup, and we have a solid lineup as well.”
It just solidified a whole lot more.
Contact Rob Parent at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @ReluctantSE.