Philadelphia Phillies week in review: Back at .500 after a big week against NL East rivals
Over the course of a long season, there are plenty of ups and downs in which a season can look lost and when things seem like they’re turned around. The Philadelphia Phillies have already been at both of those poles after following up a 1-5 week with a 5-1 week. There appears to be reason for optimism in South Philly right now, thanks to a resurgent offense and solid outings from young starting pitching. However, the Phillies have shown how quickly things can turn. So here’s a look at how the Phils fared over the past week of the baseball season.
Last week: 5-1
Season: 9-9, third in NL East
Games back: 3.5
Cesar Hernandez, Aaron Altherr and Odubel Herrera all went yard in the eighth inning of Sunday afternoon’s win over the Atlanta Braves. The victory gave the Phillies the three-game sweep and bumped their winning streak out to four games. When the top of the order went back-to-back-to-back, it marked the first time the Phillies had achieved that feat since 2008, when Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell accomplished the feat. It was the exclamation point on a solid week for the Phillies.
Herrera smashes back-to-back-to-back homer
On Saturday night, third baseman Maikel Franco’s two-run single gave the Phillies a walk-off victory.
There were few to choose from this week, so the obvious one is Wednesday’s 5-4 loss at the New York Mets. The Phillies rallied to the game in the top of the eighth, but a leaky bullpen couldn’t keep the game in check in the bottom of the inning and the Phillies lost for the only time last week. Edubray Ramos got saddled with the loss after he gave up a two-run home run to Jay Bruce.
He doesn’t have any decisions in his record to show for it, but right-hander Zach Eflin turned a pair of solid starts for the Phillies this week. He started at the Mets in Tuesday’s extra-inning victory and on Sunday in Philadelphia’s late comeback win over Atlanta. In his first two starts of the season, he allowed three runs on six hits in 12 innings. And other than the Mets scoring two runs off of him in the first inning Tuesday, opposing offenses haven’t been able to get anything going against him.
Aaron Altherr found his way into the starting lineup after Howie Kendrick was placed on the disabled list Tuesday with a right abdominal strain, and he’s made the most of his opportunity. The 26-year-old batted .429 (9 for 21) with one home run, four RBI, three doubles and seven runs scored in six games. He also stole two bases and walked once. It’s a promising performance from a young player and gives the Phillies more options in the outfield when Kendrick returns. Odubel Herrera appears to be entrenched in center field, but Altherr, Michael Saunders and Daniel Nava have all be productive at points for Philadelphia.
The Phillies bullpen still leaves plenty to be desired 18 games into the season. Hector Neris converted both of his save opportunities last week, but the righty still ran into some trouble Sunday when he allowed a run and loaded the bases in the ninth and when he gave up a home run Friday. The aforementioned Ramos also had a tough week. Neris has still been solid for the Phils, with a 1.74 ERA in 10.1 innings this season, but he allowed runs in his past two appearances after posting clean sheets his first eight times out.
The Phillies continue their run of matchups against NL East foes with the Miami Marlins coming to town for a three-game set starting Tuesday. Then, things get a little difficult as the Phils hit the road for a seven-game trip featuring three matchups at the Los Angeles Dodgers and four more at the Chicago Cubs.
Here are the probable starters for the upcoming series against the Marlins:
Tuesday, April 25, 7:05 p.m.: RHP Vince Velasquez (0-2, 7.20) vs. LHP Wei-Yin Chen (2-0, 3.94)
Wednesday, April 26, 7:05 p.m.: RHP Aaron Nola (2-0, 4.50) vs. RHP Edinson Volquez (0-2, 4.82)
Thursday, April 27, 1:05 p.m.: RHP Jeremy Hellickson (3-0, 1.88) vs. LHP Adam Conley (1-1, 3.00)