Jose Taveras made his 2019 debut a successful one for Reading on Sunday. Taveras, once a highly prized prospect in the Phillies organization, missed most of last season with injuries and pitched in just six games with Reading – three starts, three relief appearances – and added three more relief appearances with the GCL East team. He also opened this season on the IL and hadn’t pitched until the second game of a Reading double-header Sunday in Harrisburg.
On Sunday, Taveras pitched well in his return, throwing five shutout innings against Harrisburg, allowing just two hits and no walks, while fanning four batters in the win. Taveras threw 62 pitches, 42 of which were for strikes.
The 25-year old right-hander has pitched as high as Triple-A in the Phillies organization when he made seven late season starts for Lehigh Valley in 2017 going 3-1 with a 1.32 ERA prior to the start of his string of injuries. In six minor league seasons, Taveras has a 33-23 record and a 2.66 ERA for the Phillies.
Game One Recap: Arquimedes Gamboa’s revival at the plate has been one of the storylines during this turnaround. The shortstop opened the ballgame with a booming double to dead center after falling behind 0-2 against Senators starter Ben Braymer. On the very next pitch, Mickey Moniak extended his hitting streak to 11 straight with an RBI single, and got to second on a one-out single from Hall. The Fightins nearly scored two more, but a shot into left center from Cornelius Randolph was caught in the gap by left fielder Chuck Taylor for the final out.
For the second straight inning, the Fightin Phils got a leadoff double when Austin Bossart hit a bullet down the left field line. With two outs, Gamboa singled him home for a 2-0 lead and yet another multi-hit game. The Sens got as close as a run in the fourth inning against Adonis Medina, who surrendered a leadoff double to Austin Davidson, a walk to Tres Barrera, and a run-scoring single from Ian Sagdal that cut the lead to 2-1.
The game changed right there, with Medina plunking Tyler Goeddel to load the bases and give Harrisburg a chance to take the lead. But that’s where the threat ended, with the Phillies top pitching prospect picking up strikeouts of Braymer and Luis Garcia to keep the lead intact. Medina (2-2) finished the fifth in order, then saw Jeff Singer and Connor Brogdon follow suit in the sixth and seventh as the trio combined to retire the last 11 that came to the plate.
With Bryan Bonnell making his Senators debut, the R-Phils provided more than enough insurance during their last ups in the seventh. With two runners on, pinch-hitter Josh Stephen snuck a pinch-hit three-run homer over the right field wall into the Sens bullpen for a 5-1 lead. Moniak’s second single put a runner on for Hall, who followed Stephen with a laser into the bullpen for a 7-1 final.
Game Two Recap: Taveras’ return to the mound was the main storyline going into game two, and the righthander was on point with five scoreless innings and just two hits allowed while striking out four. The game remained scoreless until the sixth when the Fightins finally cashed in after squandering opportunities early against Senators spot starter Steven Fuentes.
In the first, Gamboa opened the game with a double once again, but never made it beyond second. There was more of the same in the next inning, with Luke Williams staying stuck on second base after a one-out single. Gamboa made an even bigger bang with a one-out triple in the third, but again, the R-Phils offense left two at the corners and stranded four over the first three innings.
Adam Haseley got things going with a one-out single in the sixth off lefthander Taylor Guilbeau in his second inning of relief. On a 1-1 pitch, Hall smoked a double off the top of the left field wall, and Haseley raced around to score the game’s only run. After Taveras, lefthander Aaron Brown fired two scoreless innings with three strikeouts in the sixth for his first save, giving the Fightins the series with their third shutout win of the season.