By Matt Szczypiorski, Sports Talk Philly Contributing Writer
The Phillies travel up north to the legendary Fenway Park to play the first of two games against the struggling Boston Red Sox tonight (7:30). Philadelphia sports fans are hoping that this rendition of Philly vs. Boston goes better than last night’s basketball version.
I’d rather watch the Phillies bullpen than another Brett Brown coached Sixers game.— Victor Williams (@ThePhillyPod) August 18, 2020
The Phillies are coming off of a timely, yet unprecedented, sweep of the New York Mets. The suddenly hot Phils may have just saved their season this past weekend, as they now find themselves in the thick of the expanded playoff race.
The key to their success over the weekend: starting pitching. The one-two punch of Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler gave up just two runs over 13 innings pitched combined. The bullpen even pitched better than they had all season, allowing just three runs over the three games set.
If the bullpen keeps pitching like that, look out. Us Philly fans might mess around and have some confidence.
Phillies Lineup vs. Zack Godley (0-2, 8.16 ERA)
1. Andrew McCutchen LF
2. Rhys Hoskins 1B
3. Bryce Harper RF
4. J.T. Realmuto C
5. Didi Gregorius SS
6. Alec Bohm 3B
7. Jay Bruce DH
8. Scott Kingery 2B
9. Roman Quinn CF
Zack Godley is part of the long list of Boston pitchers who have struggled to start the season. As a whole, the Red Sox are dead last in team ERA (6.06). They’ve also allowed the most hits as well as the third most home runs.
We thought the Phillies pitching staff was bad, but at the very least the Phils have competent starting pitching. The Red Sox don’t have a good starting staff or bullpen. The Phillies offense should be able to continue their hot streak against the Sox.
Everything I was complaining about the Phillies offense, they have fixed. It’s like they’re listening to me. McCutchen homered for the first time this season on Sunday (and did it with ~style~). Scott Kingery, now in center field, had two hits on Sunday, as did rookie Alec Bohm.
The trio of Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, and Didi Gregorius have been a fantastic cog in the middle of the lineup. Harper still leads the league in on base percentage. Realmuto finds himself in the top five in home runs and slugging percentage. Didi has arguably been the Phillies most clutch hitter this season, as he is 6-16 with 10 RBI’s with runners in scoring position.
Don’t look now folks, but Rhys Hoskins is hitting over the Mendoza line. While he’s still looking for his first round-tripper, he’s provided three doubles over the past week. The most impressive of the three was a bases clearing, opposite field gap shot on Saturday night to break the game open. The reason it stood out to me the most was not because it came with the bases loaded, but because it seemed like it was the first time all year Hoskins hit a ball the other way. That’s a good sign.
Rhys Hoskins may have begun to turn things around this week. 8 for 26, 3 doubles, 4 RBI, 7 runs in last 7 games.— Corey Seidman (@CSeidmanNBCS) August 17, 2020
Phillies scored 48 runs in the 7 games this week
Red Sox Lineup vs. Zach Eflin (0-1, 3.60 ERA)
1. Alex Verdugo LF
2. Rafael Devers 3B
3. J.D. Martinez DH
4. Xander Bogaerts SS
5. Mitch Moreland 1B
6. Kevin Pillar RF
7. Michael Chavis 2B
8. Tzu-Wei Lin CF
9. Kevin Plawecki C
Zach Eflin will make his third start of the season tonight. He’s impressed so far, giving up no runs over four innings of work against a loaded Yankees lineup, following that up with a ten strikeout performance against the Orioles.
However, in Eflin’s start against the O’s, he gave up four runs, including two dingers. Eflin has shown that he has the stuff to be a good starter in this league, but he needs to be more consistent. He needs to stay aggressive, even when he falls behind in the count. More often than not, it seems as though he’ll give in to the hitter.
If he stays aggressive, he’ll keep the ball in the park. The more he does that, the less runs he’ll give up and the longer he’ll be able to stay in the game. The key to every Phillies game is to keep anyone in the bullpen off of the mound.
The Red Sox lineup has underwhelmed so far this season. They’re missing someone in the lineup that can set the table for the rest of the offense, and carry them if need be. You know, someone like...Mookie Betts.
As for the guys who are still in a Red Sox uniform, the stars of the 2018 World Series team have underperformed so far. J.D. Martinez is hitting just .238 and has only two home runs. He’s hit 124 homers over the last three seasons. Xander Bogaerts is hitting .257, a far cry from his career .288 average.
However, the biggest disappointment has to be young third baseman Rafael Devers. Many people anticipated continued success from the 23-year-old after a breakout 2019 season where he hit .311 with 32 home runs and 115 RBI’s. This season he is hitting an abysmal .183 over 21 games with just two homers and five RBI’s.
Don’t be the least bit surprised if any of those three guys have seven hits each over the next two days.
The Red Sox are the coldest team in baseball right now, having lost eight games in a row. That includes a demoralizing four game sweep at the hands of their bitter rivals, the New York Yankees. Boston needs a win, badly. They won’t get it tonight.
The Phillies offense continues to hit the cover off of the ball, lighting up Godley and the Sox bullpen. Eflin pitches six solid innings, giving up just two runs. Harper and Realmuto each have two hits, and Hoskins gets his first home run of the year over the Green Monster. Alec Bohm gets his first career home run as well, also over the Monster.
The bullpen continues to shock the world by not imploding every time they come into the game. The ninth inning gets interesting, but Hector Neris comes in and slams the door, earning the save.
Phillies win, 7-3.
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Radio: 94.1 FM WIP & WTTM1680