Ladies & Gentlemen Your NLEast 2nd Place Philadelphia Phillies

Just like last year the Philadelphia Phillies are 9-9 through first 18 games coming into this series with the Miami Marlins. One item though sets the two teams apart. Last year their run differential was a miserable -23. This young season they are +7.

This series did nothing to decrease that as they swept the Marlins, and the Home-stand in the process.

Tuesday saw a steady rain with forecast of heavier stuff in the evening so that game was postponed and will be made up as part of an old-school single admission DH on August 22nd. The first game will start at 4:05.

Game 1: Phillies Got The Power

The delayed opener featured RHP Vince Velasquez (0-2) Vs LHP Wei-Yin Chen (1-1)

It could have been a tough beginning for Vince. On the first pitch, the speedy Dee Gordon, slapped a 3B to RF and an RBI GO by Christian Yelich made it 1-0 early, but that would be all Velasquez would give up.

The Marlins added on with a one out solo HR by Martin Prado.

That HR seemed to wake up the Phillies bats too. After three singles by Velasquez, Aaron Altherr, and Odubel Herrera loaded the bases, Maikel Franco followed with the third GS of his career, second of the season, to deep LCF to get the Phillies on the board in a Grand way – 4-2 Phillies after 3.

Velasquez got the SDI in the 4th and a scoreless 5th and 6th as well.

In the bottom of the inning, I and the phans got to

Do The Freddy 2 as Freddy Galvis hit a solo 2 out HR to LCF.

Velasquez would give up his last run in the 7th and was pulled after 6.1, runner on 2nd,  6H, 3R, all earned, 2BB, 3K, 1HR, 97P – 68 for strikes. Joely Rodriguez did not let that runner score.

After a 1-2-3 inning for Joaquin Benoit in the 8th, Michael Saunders hit his 1st HR as a Phillie, scoring Tommy Joseph, who had singled, for some insurance runs, 7-3.

In a non-save opp Hector Neris gave up one run, so Phils eventually win it 7-4.

1st W for Velasquez (1-2) moves the Phillies into a tie for 2nd with the  Marlins, L goes to Chen (2-1), Rodriguez(2), Benoit (5) with H’s, no S.

Streaks after game 1:

Altherr had an 8 game run scoring streak, the first since Chase Utley 6/24 – 7/2/13. He also had an 8 game H streak.

Also streaking were Galvis 8 H; Herrera 4 H, 7 OB.

Last but most important, the Phillies had 5 W’s in a row, all against the NLEast.

Game 2: Small Ball Sweeps the Home-Stand

RHP Jeremy Hellickson (3-0) Vs RHP Edinson Volquez (0-2)

Scoring was a bit more small ball in this one, and the first two Phillies runs were scored on RBI GO’s, in the 1st and 3rd innings. Volquez got back into semi-control after that, as he still had command problems with his FB, but his off-speed stuff often fooled the Phils.

Hellickson was that much better. He was in two men on jams in the 4th and 5th innings, but got out of both of those unscathed. Jeremy did give up a run in the 6th on an RBI single by J.   T.  Realmuto to make it a 1 run game.

Phillies got that right back in the bottom of the inning, when Saunders scored from 1B on a 3B by Brock Stassi with two outs. Saunders made a perfect slide under and around the tag by Realmuto on a ball that beat him to the plate.

Saunders

The 7th started out badly as Edubray Ramos was hit by a batted ball, and was replaced by Rodriguez who proceeded to HBP Derek Dietrich. Pat Neshek gave up an RBI single with two outs, to cut the lead back to 1 run at 3-2. Ramos after the game said he is not injured seriously.

That is how it ended as Joaquin Benoit and Neris pitched scoreless 8th an 9th innings respectively.

Hellickson continued his Aceesque pitching, at or near the top of the league in many pitching stats, earned his 4th W (Tied for MLB Lead, only one with no L in NL)  without a loss, 6In, 7H, 1R, 1ER, 0BB, 1K, 94P – 63 for strikes. Jeremy has lowered his ERA to 1.80 (12th in MLB, 5th in NL). Volquez who pitched well enough to win, 6H, 3R, 2 earned, 4BB, 2K, 105P – 57 for strikes, instead got his 3rd L. H’s galore for Rodriguez (3), Neshek (4), and Benoit (6), and Neris got the 1-2-3 S(3).

Streaks after game 2:

Galvis 2H extended his hit streak to 9 games, but both Herrera and Altherr – who PH late in the 2nd game – lost their streaks.

This was the 6th W in a row for the Phillies, including sweeping the shortened home-stand, and the last game in NYC. 4/26 – 5/1 last year, they also won 6 games in a row.

Phinal Thoughts:

As good as the starters have been – All but Nola (4/20) and Eickhoff (4/22),5 innings each, have gone at least 6 innings – during this six game streak, the bullpen has been the real pitching stars. They put up a 2.41 ERA with a .221 opponents’ batting average during that time, and came in to finish many tough innings. Especially good late in games, they enabled the Phillies to always have a chance to win games, even in most of the losses before the streak. If this keeps up, and the middle of the order – especially Franco who is heating up – this team could easily fulfill at least the .500 expectations of most fans.

The next 3 series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, and the Washington Natinals will be a good test to see if this team is as good as the last 8 W’s out of 10 games, or as bad as the first 7 L’s out of 10.

Speaking of Franco, who raised his BA to .221, is hitting .391 (9/23), with 2HR – including a GS – 1 2B, 10RBI, during the six game W streak. He has brought his BA up from .148 since the game before the streak. Franco’s 20 RBIs are most by a Phillie in April since Ryan Howard had 27 in 2011. He had his 16th career 3H game on Wednesday.

BTW, that run differential is now +11

Next Ups:

Phillies head out to the Left Coast to face the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Friday @ 10:10 RHP Jerad Eickhoff (0-1, 2.55 ERA), vs RHP Kenta Maeda (1-2, 8.05)

Saturday @ 9:10 PM RHP Eflin (0-0, 2.25) vs RHP Brandon McCarthy (3-0, 2.25)

Sunday @ 4:10 PM the expected MLB debut of RHP Nick Pivetta vs Hyun-Jin Ryu (0-4, 4.64)

 

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