The Philadelphia Phillies (64-60, 3rd Place, NL East, WCB 2) headed north to face the Boston Red Sox (67-59, 3rd Place AL East, WCB 6) for a two game set, after a disappointing series L against the San Diego Padres.
This could be a season deciding road trip, as even though the Sox are pretty much out of WC contention, they are still a very good team.
It was a very good start for the Phillies as they swept the Sox, giving up only two runs each game, and the offense doing just enough in one inning to win them both.
The Phillies wasted no time, jumping on Red Sox LHP Brian Johnson (1-2, 6.58) for three runs before many were in their seats.
The slumping, but still finding a way to get on base, Rhys Hoskins, led off with a 6P BB. One out later, after a Bryce Harper 2B (31), Jean Segura (29) also doubled to knock them both in.
With two outs, Scott Kingery singled home what would be the eventual game winning run.
That was because Aaron Nola (12–3, 3.51 ERA) was showing why the Phils will be looking to go to him every five days as long as they stay in the playoff hunt.
It was not easy.
Boston would get to within one run in the 3rd, on a 2R HR by CF Jackie Bradley Jr (15).
There were also baserunners in four of his seven innings, including a lead off 2B in the 5th, and single in the 6th, but Nola escaped those unscathed. 7In, 4H, 2R – both earned – 1BB, 7K, 1HR, 104P – for strikes.
On the other side of the diamond, Johnson, American League style, was pulled after 3.2 innings, only 67P, and a one run lead, after shutting down the Phillies after the first.
It stayed taut after that as the Phils only got one more hit off of five different Red Sox pitchers.
As well as Nola pitched, the Phightin’s pen was just as good. LHP Jose Alvarez (H,9), and Mike Morin (H,4) shared the 8th, and Hector Neris closed the door for his 22nd save.
The Bloody Sox looked like they were going to turn the tables on the Red Pin Stripes, scoring one run each in the first two innings of of LHP Drew Smyly (2–6, 6.99).
Meanwhile RHP Rick Porcello (11-10, 5.49) was holding the Phils in check through the first four innings, which was longer than Smyly lasted.
Smyly did only give up those two runs, but he was not sharp, nor was he helped by a very narrow strike zone by HP Umpire Hunter Wendelstedt, 3.2In, 5H, 2R – both earned, 3BB, 4K, 1HR, 84P – 44 for strikes.
Though the offense could not score, they did their thing of running up the opposing pitcher’s pitch count, and that really came to the fore in the fifth inning.
Cesar Hernandez (24) started it off with a 2B. The Sox let him score on a WP and a throwing E by C Christian Vazquez.
Adam Haseley followed that with an 8P BB, and one out later Harper launched one over the Green Monster.
It was his 27th HR of the season, just surpassing his career average, and seven away from last season with a full month to go.
Porcello would make it through the inning without giving up anymore runs but the Phightin’s had over 20 Foul balls, and he would leave with 100P – 65 for strikes thru 5.
The NL team would tack on single runs in the 7th and 9th to make it easier than the night before for the pen, who would put up 5.1In, 3H, 1BB, 6K, 0R, for the final score of 5-2.
Besides the Harper HR, the real turning point of the game was when the eventual winner Jared Hughes (4-5, 3.98) came on to relieve Smyly with bases loaded and two outs, and got RF Mookie Betts , a career .300 hitter, to GO on a 2-2 count.
It was Hughes first W as a Phillie. Ranger Suarez (3), Morin (5) and Alvarez (10) got Holds, and Neris (23) a stress free Save.
As well as putting up great individual stats, the Phillies are 9-3 in Aaron Nola’s last 12 starts. Here are his stats and ranks for those 12 games courtesy of NBCSports John Clark.
Aaron Nola has been one of the best pitchers in baseball over the last 2 months 🔥🔥
As noted above the Phillies look to ride this horse to the playoffs, every five days leading up to the final game on 9/29.
This is what Manager Gabe Kapler had to say about that plan.
“He’s as physically prepared as any pitcher I’ve been around. He’s as mentally prepared as any pitcher I’ve been around. I think he’s built for this. Quite frankly, we’re in a playoff race and he’s far and away our best and most dependable pitcher.”
The Pen also deserves a ton of credit for the sweep with 7.1 innings of shut out ball. Three guys, Alvarez, Morin, and Neris, pitched on B2B nights.
With that sweep, I think every real Phan is holding their breath as the Phillies (66-60, 4th Place, NL East, WCB 2.0) head south to face the Miami Marlins (45-78, Last Place, NL East). As my colleague Seamus Killeen notes this team is so consistently inconsistent, that it would not be a stretch to see this team phail like they did at home against the Padres after sweeping the Chicago Cubs. They are 3-3 in FLA this season, 6-7 against the Fish overall.
Lets all have High Hopes that they will not let that happen.
At Marlins Park TV: NBCSP, FS-F, MLBN (out-of-market only)
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.