After a successful mid west road trip ending with a series win over the Milwaukee Brewers, the Philadelphia Phillies (31-22, 1st Place NL East) had the shortest of home stands against the St Louis Cardinals (26-26, 4th Place NL Central).
Though it did not end so well, the Phils did win the series.
Game 1: Phillies Rally Continued late trend of winning Openers.
The 50 minute rain delay did not cool off the St Louis offense against Nick Pivetta (3-1, 7.71 ERA), as with one out, a solo shot by Paul Goldschmidt (11) started the scoring. Then after a HBP a 2R blast by Marcell Ozuna (15) made it 3-0 before the Phillies had a chance to bat.
Cardinals veteran RHP Adam Wainwright (4-5, 4.94) held the Phils in check until the 3rd inning.
A WP followed two one out singles. And out later, the stage was set for what seemed to be a resurgence by Bryce Harper, who laced a 2RBI 2B to RF, to get the Phightin’s within one run.
Pivetta who had now settled down nicely got the SDI, and in the next inning one of the hottest hitters at the time, Cesar Hernandez did this:
It was his 3rd HR in the last 15 games, and put the Phils in the lead for good.
Surprisingly for how the ball was flying this game, and what would be the whole series, both pens shut the hitters down and the final was 4-3, earning Pivetta the W going 5In, 3H, 3R – all earned – 2BB, 6K, 2HR, 106P – 63 for strikes, and Wainwright the L.
This good pitching performance highlighted the interesting stats that NBC Sports Philadelphia‘s Corey Seidman noted about Phillies pitchers “Strand Rate” in the pre game show.
77.7% leads the NL. There were only two teams in the last three seasons that high. For comparison the MLB avg is 72.8%
Phils relievers after this game were tied for the fewest ERs allowed, and own the second best ERA in the NL, sixth best in MLB at .391.
This was the fifth series opening W in a row, reversing an early season trend.
Game 2: Rain could not dampen Phillies bats
This scribe along with some 30K phans sat through yet another rain delay before the second game, 1:39. but this time it was the Phillies who let it roll right off their backs and bats.
It would take too long to note all the scoring as the Phils put up two spots in the 1st, 3rd, and 4th innings. 2RBI hits by Hernandez and Harper in the 1st and 4th, and a 2R HR by Harper (10) in the 3rd did the damage. All but one of those runs came off of St. Louis LHP Génesis Cabrera. making his firs MLB appearance, only lasting 3.2 In, 5H, 5R – only 3 earned – 2BB, 5K, 1HR, 53P – 34 for strikes.
Red Birds RHP Michael Wacha (3-2, 6.61) making his first relief appearance of the season, 10th of his career, did not fare much better, as he let in the last run against Cabrera’s line and one of his own on that Harper 2B.
Meanwhile Aaron Nola (6-0, 4.18) was having one of his best starts of the season only giving up a solo HR to C Matt Weiters (2) in the 4th inning. He would end up going a Solid Seven innings, 4H, 1R – earned, 3BB, 8K, 1HR, 102P – 68 for strikes.
My game buddies and I both noted how Nola was now using a “knuckle-curve” ball more prominently, as we had barely noticed him using it much earlier. It was very effective in this one.
In the 5th inning the Phillies said pheh on the two spots, as they put up five this time, the hilite being three HRs in the inning, the first two B2B, Scott Kingery (3), Maikel Franco (8), and Andrew McCutchen (9). Kingery and McCutchen each had a man aboard on BB by Wacha, who would only last one inning, 5H, 6R – all earned – 3BB, 2K, 3HR, 40P – 19 for strikes.
He also became one of only four players over the last five seasons with 40 walks and 40 runs before June. The others were Aaron Judge and Mike Trout in 2018 and Bryce Harper in 2015.
Game 3: Hitting Season Continues But Only For Cardinals in Finale
In the final game of the series, the Cardinals pitching staff finally found a way to stifle the Phils offense.
Like in the opener they would score first putting up two runs off of Jerad Eickhoff (2-3, 4.10) in the 2nd inning on solo HRs by Ozuna (16) and Weiters (3).
Eickhoff would settle down after that but the Phils could only put up a single run against RHP Dakota Hudson (4-3, 3.94) on a FC by Hernandez in the 4th.
The Cardinals HR parade though would get back underway in the 7th when Jedd Gyorko (2) smacked a 2R shot with one out, chasing Eickhoff after 6.1In, 8H, 4R – all earned – 0BB, 4K, 3HR, 91P, 60 for strikes. Matt Carpenter (8) would add a solo shot off of reliever Garcia with two outs to give the Cardinals a 5-1 lead.
RBI Singles by Harper and Rhys Hoskins in the 8th got them closer, but they could not do anything after that, so the series would come to an end with a 5-3 L. Eickhoff would get that L, and Hudson the W in 6In, 4H, 1R – earned, 3BB, 4K, 0HR, 82P – 52 for strikes. FTR RHP John Gant would get a H (9), and RHP Jordan Hicks the S (11).
Besides the incredible game McCutchen had on Wednesday, Harper appeared to be coming out, of what was for him, an early season slump as the numbers by the Athletic‘s Jayson Stark tweeted below.
Bryce Harper's series vs. the Cardinals: 8-for-12, 5 doubles, 1 HR, 7 RBIs
The only other #Phillies hitter in the expansion era with 8+ hits, 6+ XBH & 7+ RBIs in any series of 3 G or shorter:
Rico Brogna! 9×14, 9 RBIs, 7 XBH, vs. the Padres, Aug. 23-25, 1999
Though I was born a few blocks from what was to be the NY Worlds Fair/Shea Stadium/Forrest Hills Complex, my parents saved me from being a NY fan by moving to Elkins Park in 1955, when I was 6 months old. I have been living and dying w/ Philly sports teams ever since. Now over 60 , I bring an older, but hopefully not stodgy, spin to this blog. By day I am a mild mannered controller/IT guy for a family business, but by night you will either find me @ CBP at least 17 games a season, and most other nights yelling at my tv as if they can hear me. Though I attend many other local sports, my main love has always been baseball, and my focus here is the Phillies, but I am also part of the team covering the Philadelphia Union.