Preview: Philadelphia Phillies (9-9) at Boston Red Sox (6-18)

By Matt Szczypiorski, Sports Talk Philly Contributing Writer

The first installment of Philadelphia vs. Boston today will be the baseball variety at 1:35. Here’s to hoping that both legs of these matchups go similarly to last night’s Phillies-Red Sox game, a 13-6 drubbing by the Phils.

It’s beginning to appear like the Phillies have turned a corner after struggling to open the season. The Fightin’ Phils have won four in a row and can see their record go over .500 for the first time this season with a win today.

During this four game winning streak, the Phillies have begun to do everything that people complained they didn’t do. The offense is hotter than a fox in a forest fire right now. It seems like everyone is hitting the ball well (except Kingery), as they’ve scored 31 runs over the last four contests.

The pitching staff has looked a lot better, but I still wouldn’t call it good. Eflin did not have his best stuff last night, as he gave up four runs in just four innings of work. However, the bullpen continued their streak of not absolutely imploding, as they gave up just two runs over the final five innings. That’s what we call improvement, folks.

Phillies Lineup vs. Kyle Hart (0-1, 22.50 ERA)

1. Andrew McCutchen DH

2. Rhys Hoskins 1B

3. Bryce Harper RF

4. J.T. Realmuto C

5. Phil Gosselin 2B

6. Didi Gregorius SS

7. Alec Bohm 3B

8. Scott Kingery CF

9. Kyle Garlick LF

Left hander Kyle Hart will get the start for the Red Sox this afternoon. Hart made his major league debut last week. It did not go well.

Against a solid Rays lineup, the 27-year-old rookie made it through just two innings, allowing seven hits and five earned runs. With the way the Phillies offense has crushed left handed pitching this year, Hart could be in for another rough day.

We saw yesterday just how bad the Red Sox pitching staff is. The Phillies offense lit them up for 13 runs, including a seven run sixth inning. The most impressive part about that inning? All seven runs came with two outs. Eight straight Phillies batters got on base, including a three-run moonshot from Bryce Harper. They even stole two bases in the inning, courtesy of Roman Quinn and Andrew McCutchen (the same Andrew McCutchen that limps his way around left field).

The whole tide of the game turned when Joe Girardi decided to let Phil “Barrels” Gosselin pinch-hit for the struggling Scott Kingery. Gosselin promptly doubled home a runner to start the sixth inning fun, then led off the seventh inning with a home run over the Green Monster. Girardi needs to keep Gosselin in the lineup and Kingery on the bench. Kingery is lucky he’s a utility man, or else he would not have nearly this long of a leash.

Let’s give a nice shoutout to first baseman Rhys Hoskins. For as much as he was on the struggle bus to begin the season, he has really turned it around since last week’s one game benching. Hoskins hit his first home run of the season last night (as I predicted he would, thank you very much). It was an opposite field shot, a rarity for Hoskins, but a sign that he is really seeing pitches well and getting the barrel on the ball. When Hoskins is hot, the Phillies offense typically follows in his footsteps.

What more can anyone say about Bryce Harper? For one, no one is saying he’s overrated now. With two more hits last night, Harper’s average is up to .367, fourth in the majors. He also leads the majors in on base percentage, and don’t look now but he’s second in the league in OPS. He has more walks than strikeouts, and is even four-for-four on stolen base attempts. He is the true definition of a five-tool player.

To say that Harper has thoroughly catapulted himself into the MVP discussion in the National League is an understatement. Will he win the award? Time will tell, but he’s certainly earned the right to be mentioned with the games best. Which is exactly what the Phillies paid him to do.

Overrated? Please.

Red Sox Lineup vs. Jake Arrieta (1-2, 4.02 ERA)

1. Alex Verdugo LF

2. Kevin Pillar RF

3. Rafael Devers 3B

4. Xander Bogaerts DH

5. Mitch Moreland 1B

6. Christian Vazquez C

7. Jackie Bradley Jr. CF

8. Tzu-Wei Lin SS

9. Jose Peraza 2B

Jake Arrieta takes the bump this afternoon looking for a bounce back performance. After cruising through his first four innings, he self-destructed in the fifth inning of his last start against the Orioles. Arrieta didn’t even make it out of the fifth inning, as he gave up four runs and allowed five batters to reach base in that inning alone.

Even though Arrieta didn’t give up a run over the first four innings of his last start, there was cause for concern. He only got one ground ball that resulted in an out through those first four innings, which was a double play. He had way too many fly balls and liners hit off of him in that start.

When Arrieta is at his best, he’s getting the majority of his outs from grounders. In a small ballpark like Fenway, it will be imperative for Arrieta to keep the ball on the ground if he wants to have some success.

The Red Sox offense had a decent output last night that was overshadowed by their horrendous bullpen. They recorded 11 hits and six runs, but also had 15 strikeouts (Michael Chavis had five on his own). J.D. Martinez was also taken out of last night’s game with an injury, hence the reason he is out of the lineup this afternoon.

Rafael Devers, who had struggled mightily prior to last night’s game, recorded three hits and an RBI yesterday. He is the key guy to focus on in today’s lineup for the Red Sox. If the Phillies can limit Devers, they will have a much better chance of winning their fifth consecutive game.

My Prediction

In the first of three Philadelphia sports games today, the Phillies start the big day off on the right foot. Arrieta gets through five strong innings, allowing two runs but escaping worse damage. The Phillies offense once again lights up Kyle Hart, and he is out of the game by the fourth inning.

Harper has another two hit game, Realmuto hits a home run over the monster, and Barrels lives up to his nickname by hitting another double and collecting a couple of RBI’s. Alec Bohm was close to his first career homer last night, but watched it go just foul. He gets his first fair round-tripper this afternoon. The bullpen comes in and pitches well, only allowing two runs over the final four innings. Neris comes in to get the save.

Phillies win, 6-4.

Bonus Predictions

I don’t know why, but I just have a feeling the Sixers will steal a win tonight, very similar to their game two win over Toronto last year. I think the Gordon Hayward injury is a bigger deal than people realize. Embiid goes off and the Sixers win, 103-99, to tie the series.

Carter Hart continues to be a brick wall in net, and the Flyers finally net another power play goal. Flyers win, 3-1, and move on to the second round.

Broadcast Information

Time: 1:35 p.m.

TV: NBCSP & MLB Network

Radio: 94.1 FM WIP & WTTM1680

Online: MLB.TV

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