The Phillies entered last night with a 4-8 record over their last 12 games. They have not won a series since their 4 game sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates. At points during their series’ against the Diamondbacks, Braves, Marlins, and Nationals, the team looked lost. Last night, we saw their best game since April 7th when the Phillies beat Miami 20-1.
After player 6 games on the road, the Phillies were happy to play back in the city of Philadelphia. Heading into the series against the Giants, the young club has seen success on their home field with an 11-5 record to start 2018. They improved that record with a dominant win where fans saw the team put everything together.
Just one day after blowing a 9th inning lead to the Nationals, the Phillies needed a bounce back win. With the injury to starting pitcher Ben Lively, Manager Gabe Kapler looked to Zach Eflin to make a quality start in his place. Eflin’s first start took place in Miami where he pitched 6 innings while only allowing 1 earned run on 3 hits and tallied 4 strikeouts with 0 walks. Last night was even better for the young right-hander.
In game 1 of 4 against the Giants, Eflin pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings while striking out 9 batters and only allowing 3 walks. In his two starts this season, the 24 year old has posted a 0.71 ERA after he was beat out for the final spot of the rotation during Spring Training. It has only been two starts, but Eflin has taken advantage of his opportunity in the major leagues. If he can pitch near the level that he has so far this season, it could bring much needed help to the Phillies rotation.
As great as Eflin pitched last night, he was not the only story. The Phillies were able to score 11 runs while also shutting out the Giants. That amount of runs was the most scored in a game by the Phillies since April 7th when they scored 20 runs against the Marlins. It was only the 3rd time the team was able to plate double digit runs in a single game. The power surge that we saw last night brought 5 extra base hits including 4 home runs.
Of those 4 home runs, 2 of them came off the bat of Odubel Herrera. It was not long ago that fans were complaining about some of the mental mistakes Herrera would make in a game https://975thefanatic.com/2018/04/18/take-advil-odubel-herrera-headache/. If you still feel that way about him, there is no saving you. Through 33 games this season, the centerfielder is hitting .341 (8th in MLB) with an on-base percentage of .401 (19th in MLB). Add 13 extra base hits, 19 runs scored, and 20 RBIs and you will see that Herrera is putting together an all-star season.
Along with Herrera’s 2 home runs, we saw Carlos Santana continue to heat up with a long ball of his own. Santana’s last 5 hits have all been for extra bases: 2 doubles, 2 triples, 2 home runs. In last night’s 11-0 win, Santana was able to contribute with 4 RBIs and is starting to show life at the plate. If the Phillies can get half of that production every night out of their starting first baseman, fans will finally start to say that the contract was worth it.
Of course we cannot expect 11 runs every night from the Phillies, and we cannot expect a shutout from their starting pitcher and bullpen, but we can expect more life from this team. Before their 4-8 skid, the Phillies held a record of 14-7. We saw good starting pitching, timely hits, a dominant bullpen, and everything else that puts wins together. During those 12 games where they struggled, the Phillies did not put those pieces together in order to win. We saw all of them come together last night.
The Phillies need to win this series against the Giants. We do not need to see a sweep, but if they could take 3 of 4 games, we could actually see them on top of the NL East by the end of the week. They currently sit just half a game behind the Atlanta Braves who lost 3 straight and begin a series tonight against the Rays. If you are not already, keep an eye out on the NL East standings and the strange turning of the tides. They may not finish on top after 162 games, but this team is currently built to stick around for a long time in 2018.
- Andrew Salciunas - Phillies Contributor for 975thefanatic.com - Host of "Walking Off": A Phillies Baseball Podcast
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