Phillies split series with Braves behind Nola, offensive explosion

By: Rebecca Serad, Sports Talk Philly Staff 

Final: Philadelphia Phillies 13, Atlanta Braves 8

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — Looking at the box score through the first eight innings of tonight's game between the Atlanta Braves (11-7) and the Philadelphia Phillies (5-6), it seemed like an easy 13-1 win for the Phils. However, a prolonged and painful top of the ninth made it a much closer game than it had any right to be. Phillies starter Aaron Nola was stellar. Over eight innings, the righty allowed one run on two hits, walked one batter and struck out ten. This was Nola's fourteenth time reaching double-digit strikeouts, and his second consecutive start with ten or more strikeouts. More importantly, this was Nola's first win since August 20, 2019.

It seemed like Nola coming out for the ninth inning was a given, as he had thrown only 89 pitches and was not laboring during his outing. However, Phillies skipper Joe Girardi opted to take out his ace and give his bullpen a chance to create some good momentum. Right-hander Nick Pivetta was the manager's first choice out of the 'pen and to say that he struggled would be putting it kindly. Pivetta allowed six runs on six hits and only recorded one out. He was removed in favor of Trevor Kelley. He allowed one run to score, as well as the runner he inherited from Pivetta, on a home-run. Kelley was able to get the final two outs to secure the victory, but this was still another prime example of the bullpen being unreliable.

The bats came out swinging in support of Nola. The Phillies hit four home-runs in the first two innings alone. Bryce Harper hit an impressive shot into the Braves' bullpen that gave the Phils an early lead in the game. Didi Gregorius' grand slam was the main force behind the Phillies scoring seven runs in the second inning. J.T. Realmuto, Roman Quinn and Jean Segura also homered in the game. Every player in the starting line-up, aside from Jay Bruce, got at least one hit. It was encouraging to see players hitting the ball where it was pitched and taking advantage of the opportunities provided by the Braves.

WP: Aaron Nola (1-1, 2.79 ERA)  ❖  LP: Sean Newcomb (0-2, 3.86 ERA)

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Wheeler impresses in Phillies debut as bats secure first win

By: Rebecca Serad, Sports Talk Philly Staff 

Final: Philadelphia Phillies 7, Miami Marlins 1

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — It's safe to assume that the Philadelphia Phillies (1-1) are grateful that starting pitcher Zack Wheeler's wife gave birth to the couple's first child this past Monday instead of today, which was her original due date. The new Phillie made a fantastic first impression in his dominating performance against the Miami Marlins (1-1). Over seven strong innings, the right-hander allowed one run on five hits. Wheeler struck out four batters and only walked two. He induced four double plays and was the first Phillie to do so since Cliff Lee in 2012.

Although the bats were largely quiet for the first half of the game, they woke up in a big way to support Wheeler. Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto and Jean Segura each recorded their first hit of the season. Realmuto's first hit of 2020 was the most impressive, visually, as it was a monster home-run to the deepest part of the ballpark with an exit velocity of 108.8 mph. However, Harper's was an intriguing use of strategy that may be a positive indication of things to come. The Phils' right fielder decided to drop a bunt down the third base line, far from the infielders who were implementing a defensive shift during his at-bat. The move was unexpected from a hitter of his caliber, but it was effective in keeping the inning alive and setting up the three-run homer by Realmuto. This change in approach should not be overlooked and isn't reflected in the box score. Phil Gosselin also contributed with his first career multi-homer game, while Didi Gregorius hit his second homer in as many days.

While it was good to see the hitters have patience at the plate and total nine walks in the game, only two of those nine runners ended up scoring. The Phillies left far too many men on base, including two in the first inning and three in the second inning, and need to improve this aspect of their play if they want to contend in the shortened 2020 season.

WP: Zack Wheeler (1-0, 1.29 ERA)  ❖  LP: Alex Vesia (0-1, 27.00 ERA)

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Phillies collapse in heartbreaking extra-inning loss to Nats

By: Rebecca Serad, Sports Talk Philly Staff 

Final: Washington Nationals 10, Philadelphia Phillies 6  ❖  Attendance: 38,073

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — At one point in tonight's game, the Philadelphia Phillies (7-3) had a 6-1 lead over the Washington Nationals (5-5). Then, the Nats scored nine unanswered runs and handed an extra inning loss to the Phils. It was the second time in the last week that the Phillies blew a significant lead against their division rivals from D.C. and ended up losing the ballgame. It's concerning, to say the least.

Phillies starter Aaron Nola had another uncharacteristic start. Over six and 1/3 innings, he allowed five runs (four earned) on seven hits, including two home-runs. Nola has now allowed a combined five homers in his three starts this season. His line would have looked significantly different if he hadn't been sent back out for the seventh, as the Nationals scored three runs against him in that inning. Seranthony Dominguez finished the seventh without issue and Hector Neris battled through the eighth. Even Edubray Ramos looked sharp in the ninth inning before allowing the solo home-run that would send the game to extra innings. However, José Álvarez struggled immensely in the tenth and deservedly got the loss.

The Phillies bats came out swinging against Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg. They scored all six of their runs against the righty, who consequently only lasted four innings in the ballgame. Bryce Harper and Maikel Franco each hit their fourth homer of the season. Jean Segura hit his first triple of the season and knocked in multiple runs. Unfortunately, the offense didn't continue its trend of tacking on runs over the course of the game, and that proved to be part of the team's downfall this evening.

WP: Sean Doolittle (3-0, 0.00 ERA)  ❖  LP: José Álvarez (0-1, 20.25 ERA)

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Harper, Realmuto hit first homers in Phils uniform as team secures first series win

By: Rebecca Serad, Sports Talk Philly Staff 

Final: Philadelphia Phillies 8, Atlanta Braves 6  ❖ Attendance: 44,597

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — The Philadelphia Phillies (2-0) came into this afternoon's game against the Atlanta Braves (0-2) still riding the high of their Opening Day victory. They built upon that momentum in today's roller-coaster win that was full of firsts. Not only did it secure the first series victory of the Phillies' 2019 season, but two of the team's most highly touted off-season acquisitions, Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto, both hit their first homers in a Phillies uniform. Harper's home-run was especially rewarding, considering the mounting anticipation since he signed his record-setting contract to roam right field for the next thirteen seasons. The blast went far beyond the wall in right-center field, landing in the second deck 465 feet away from home plate. The crowd gave a rousing ovation and practically demanded a curtain call, which Harper was more than happy to give.

Phillies starter Nick Pivetta was underwhelming in his first start of the season. The righty allowed four runs on eight hits over four and 2/3 innings. Outside of David Robertson, who struggled in the ninth inning, the relief pitchers were fantastic. Adam Morgan, Juan Nicasio, José Álvarez, Pat Neshek and Seranthony Dominguez did not allow any hits and combined for only two walks. Robertson's difficulties are a bit concerning, considering that he also allowed a run during his appearance on Opening Day. 

The offense exploded in support of the pitching staff. In addition to Harper and Realmuto, Maikel Franco also hit a home-run. The third baseman now has two homers in as many games and appears comfortable hitting eighth in the line-up. The team has totaled six home-runs in its first two games, which is a first for the Phillies franchise. Both Realmuto and Franco totaled three RBI on the day. César Hernández got two hits, including a triple in the fourth inning, and scored two runs. It's encouraging to see contributions up and down the batting order. The team will need to continue this pattern through the season if they want to be successful.

WP: Adam Morgan (1-0, 0.00 ERA)  ❖  LP: Wes Parsons (0-1, 10.80 ERA)

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Phillies' defense, bullpen fail Nola in loss

By: Rebecca Serad, Sports Talk Philly Staff 

Final: Washington Nationals 5, Philadelphia Phillies 4  ❖  Attendance: 21,083

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — Tonight's game between the Washington Nationals (67-66) and the Philadelphia Phillies (70-62) was a rematch between staff aces and National League Cy Young award candidates Max Scherzer of the Nationals and Aaron Nola of the Phillies. The pair faced off last Thursday in Washington, with Nola and the Phillies coming out on top. For much of tonight's game, it looked like the outcome would be the same. However, due to some key errors late in the game and a bad ninth inning by the Phillies bullpen, the Nationals came out on top.

Nola was once again excellent for the Phillies. Over seven innings, the righty allowed two runs, one earned, on four hits. He walked two batters and struck out eight. Nola looked very much in command of all his pitches and of the game itself. Though Tommy Hunter was quite good in the eighth and finally looked like he would be the stable veteran presence in the 'pen that the Phillies were looking for when they signed him this past offseason, the batter he walked to lead off the ninth inning ended up tying the game. Pat Neshek struggled the most in the ninth. He allowed a critical two-run homer, in addition to another baserunner that later ended up scoring. Hector Neris got the final two outs of the inning, although Neshek's second runner did score on an error while Neris was on the mound. The Phillies now have a whopping 102 errors on the season, which ties them with the St. Louis Cardinals for the most in baseball.

There were some bright spots on the offensive front. Odubel Herrera once again homered off of Scherzer. Herrera now has 14 hits against the reigning NL Cy Young winner, and his two homers this month are both against the Nats' ace. Jorge Alfaro also homered in the ballgame. Scott Kingery picked up two hits and scored a run. Nick Williams and Wilson Ramos both doubled.

WP: Koda Glover (1-2, 5.68 ERA)  ❖  LP: Pat Neshek (1-1, 1.56 ERA)  ❖  SV: Greg Holland (1)

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Phillies avoid sweep as Nola wins battle of Cy Young contenders

By: Rebecca Serad, Sports Talk Philly Staff 

Final: Philadelphia Phillies 2, Washington Nationals 0  ❖  Attendance: 29,475

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On paper, today's pitching match-up looked like one of the best in baseball this season. Reigning Cy Young award winner, All-Star Game starter and Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer faced off against Philadelphia Phillies All-Star and ace Aaron Nola. After losing the first two games of this series and their last four games overall, the Phillies (69-58) needed their ace to come out on top and help them win against the Nationals (64-64). Nola was able to do just that.

To say that Nola was spectacular would feel like a gross understatement. His command was fantastic and he always looked like he was in control of the game. Even in Nola's final inning, after allowing a two-out double and his only walk of the day, he still looked like he was positive that he would retire Bryce Harper to get out of the inning. Over eight innings, Nola allowed five hits and one walk and struck out nine batters, while not allowing any runs. His season ERA went from 2.24 to 2.13. Pat Neshek came out of the 'pen to pitch a 1-2-3 ninth inning and earn his fourth save of the season.

While the Phillies only mustered three hits and four walks in the game, they took advantage of an opportunity they were given in the seventh inning by a tiring Scherzer. Maikel Franco worked his second walk of the day, and Odubel Herrera followed that up with what ended up being the game-winning homer. It was the first home-run for Herrera in August and hopefully will help him heat up at the plate. The Phils need him and his offensive production in the line-up.

WP: Aaron Nola (15-3, 2.13 ERA)  ❖  LP: Max Scherzer (16-6, 2.13 ERA)  ❖  SV: Pat Neshek (4)

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Fundamentals fail Phillies as they drop series to Padres

By: Rebecca Serad, Sports Talk Philly Staff 

Final: San Diego Padres 9, Philadelphia Phillies 3  ❖  Attendance: 26,930

SAN DIEGO, Ca. — The Philadelphia Phillies (65-52) capped off their six-game road trip with a painful loss to the San Diego Padres (48-72). The Phils had their fair share of difficulties during their visit to the west coast, losing two of three games to both the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Padres and scoring a total of 15 runs over those six games. Today's Phillies starter, Jake Arrieta, didn't look like himself on the mound. Over five innings, the righty allowed five runs on eight hits, while walking two and striking out four. It didn't help Arrieta or the four relievers that also pitched today that the defense was not up to par. Although the box score only says two errors, there were several instances where the official scorers were a bit too kind and gave the opponent a hit instead of an error for the Phils. The Padres also stole six bases in this game alone, including four by one player. This cannot continue to occur.

There were few positives on the offensive front. Until the eighth inning, it looked like the Phillies would go down without any kind of fight. Nick Williams and Carlos Santana both recorded RBI doubles. Maikel Franco notched two hits. Cesar Hernandez extended his hitting streak to six games with his first inning single. Justin Bour got his first hit in a Phillies uniform: a pinch-hit single in the ninth inning. Hopefully, his bat can help reignite the fire under the offense.

WP: Joey Lucchesi (6-6, 3.45 ERA)  ❖  LP: Jake Arrieta (9-7, 3.33 ERA)

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Pivetta outduels Greinke as Phillies defeat D-backs

By: Rebecca Serad, Sports Talk Philly Staff 

Final: Philadelphia Phillies 5, Arizona Diamondbacks 2  ❖  Attendance: 22,382

PHOENIX, Az. — With tonight's win over the Arizona Diamondbacks (63-52), the Philadelphia Phillies (64-49) have a 14-11 record against the National League West division this season and a 6-1 record in their last seven games. Starter Nick Pivetta was excellent tonight. Over six innings, the righty allowed zero runs, five hits and one walk and struck out six. Four relievers threw a combined three innings to get Pivetta his seventh win of the season. This includes Pat Neshek, who earned his second save of the season on just five pitches.

After the bats were mostly quiet for the first seven innings of the game against D-backs ace Zack Greinke, the Phillies came out swinging in the eighth. The Phils scored four runs in the eighth inning, highlighted by a two-run double by Asdrubal Cabrera. Also in that inning, a bizarre two-error play had Cesar Hernandez rounding the bases. Earlier in the game, Nick Williams hit his 16th home-run of the season. It is also only the sixth home-run that Greinke has allowed to a left-handed hitter this season.

WP: Nick Pivetta (7-9, 4.51 ERA)  ❖  LP: Zack Greinke (12-7, 2.89 ERA)  ❖  SV: Pat Neshek (2)

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Phillies end losing streak, split series with Red Sox

By: Rebecca Serad, Sports Talk Philly Staff 

Final: Philadelphia Phillies 3, Boston Red Sox 1  ❖  Attendance: 37,816

BOSTON, Ma. — Coming into tonight's game, the Philadelphia Phillies (59-48) were hoping to both end their four game losing streak and split this short two game series against the Boston Red Sox (75-34). The Phils were able to do just that. Starter Jake Arrieta was fantastic against a very potent Red Sox line-up. Over seven innings, the righty allowed one run on six hits and struck out seven. It was the first start in ten outings and only the second outing this season in which Arrieta did not allow any walks. His command played a big role in his success and his turnaround this month after a horrendous month of June. Tommy Hunter threw an eight-pitch eighth inning. It marked the first time this season in which Hunter has thrown a 1-2-3 inning with a one run lead. The Phillies need him to continue to rebound if they want to contend. Seranthony Dominguez appeared to get in his head a bit in the ninth inning, but he was able to get past his struggles to notch his 11th save.

While the Phillies were an abysmal 1-8 with runners in scoring position tonight, the bats did manage to plate enough runs to win the ballgame. Roman Quinn got three hits, including a double. Carlos Santana and Maikel Franco got two hits apiece. Franco actually reached base four times, thanks to two walks in addition to the two aforementioned hits. Rhys Hoskins hit his third double of the series and scored a run. It was a combined effort, which is good to see from this often-struggling offense.

WP: Jake Arrieta (9-6, 3.32 ERA)  ❖  LP: Drew Pomeranz (1-5, 6.56 ERA)  ❖  SV: Seranthony Dominguez (11)

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Phillies earn series win as Utley plays final game in Philly

By: Rebecca Serad, Sports Talk Philly Staff 

Final: Philadelphia Phillies 7, Los Angeles Dodgers 3  ❖  Attendance: 35,659

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — The Philadelphia Phillies (57-44) defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers (56-46) in this afternoon's game, but that wasn't the real story. This series was the last opportunity for the city of Philadelphia to see former Phillie and fan favorite Chase Utley play in a regular season game, as he recently announced his retirement at the end of this season. The second baseman started both Monday and today's games and pinch-hit in last night's game, earning standing ovations before his first at-bat in each game and applause before every subsequent at-bat and upon reaching base. To put it simply, Utley is a Philadelphia sports icon, beloved for his hard-nosed style of play. As a result, this series has been more emotionally charged, for both Utley and fans. Utley had a rough series at the plate, going 1-8 with a pinch-hit single in last night's game. There's a chance that Utley could play at Citizens Bank Park once again if both the Phillies and Dodgers make the playoffs and face off in October, but that's not guaranteed by any means. On the off chance that it does, it's a guarantee that Phillies fans will still show their appreciation for one of the greatest second baseman in franchise history.

After last night's 16 inning, almost six hour long game that crept into the early hours of this morning, a regular nine inning game was sorely needed and much appreciated. Phillies starter Jake Arrieta was solid and helped out the tired bullpen by throwing six innings. He allowed three runs (only two earned) on five hits and struck out six. Arrieta added another unearned run to his breathtaking season total of 17, which leads all of MLB. Victor Arano, Adam Morgan and Seranthony Dominguez combined for three scoreless innings to nail down the win.

The Phillies' bats played a big part in beating the current first place team in the NL West division. The biggest hit of the game game off the bat of Carlos Santana. The first baseman hit a bases clearing triple in a fifth inning in which the team scored five runs. Rhys Hoskins and Scott Kingery both homered. Hoskins extended his hitting streak to five games with his first inning homer, while Kingery's home-run was his first since June 29. Andrew Knapp also contributed with a RBI double.

WP: Jake Arrieta (8-6, 3.45 ERA)  ❖  LP: Walker Buehler (4-3, 3.92 ERA)  ❖  SV: Seranthony Dominguez (10)

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