It’s been all sunshine and rainbows with the 2016 Phillies to this point, but this past weekend’s series with the Atlanta Braves served as a reminder that Philadelphia is still very much in a rebuilding mode. Atlanta took 2 of 3 games from Philadelphia in this series and ultimately, the Phils’ bats were silenced and their pitching was erratic for most of the weekend. The team was able to salvage the tough series with a win on Sunday, however, were both the offense and pitching looked good. Here’s your game by game recap for the series, folks:
The Atlanta Braves have epitomized ineptitude for most of this season, but looked pretty formidable on Friday night as they laid a 7-1 beating to the Phillies. Three home-runs buoyed the Braves in game 1 and 2 of them came from first baseman Freddie Freeman. The usually reliable Aaron Nola was solid for the Phillies in my opinion and pitched well enough to win, as the 22 year-old went 7 innings, allowing 2 earned runs while striking out 6 Braves’ hitters. More pressing was the Phillies anemic hitting display that saw the team total 6 hits for the game in addition to being charged 2 errors in the loss. Both fielding miscues belonged to third baseman Maikel Franco, while the errors doubled his season total.
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The Phillies went 0-6 with running in scoring position in Friday nights’ contest. By way of comparison, the Braves didn’t fare much better as they went 1-5, but were gifted 3 unearned runs in their big win. These are the kinds of self-inflicted wounds the Phillies have done well in avoiding to this point. It serves as a subtle reminder that the Phillies won’t outhit their mistakes so fundamentally sound baseball will always be their best bet and is the foundation for all the success of winning teams.
Things would get worse for the Phils in game 2. Philadelphia wasted another solid effort pitching performance but this time, from Adam Morgan. The Phillies only mustered up 2 hits for the game and continued to struggle to circumvent and manufacture runs. The shutout loss represented just the 2nd time all season that the Phillies were shutout and with the Braves 2 runs, that puts both clubs in a tie for least runs scored this season with 137 runs scored, according to beat writers’ Mark Bowman and Evan Webeck.
Just 3 Phillies’ batters reached base for the game and similarly to game 1, Philadelphia again showed that they are still a team in transition. Many questioned where exactly the Phillies would get run support from this season and to this point—while they’ve surprised everyone with a strong start to the season—the team has been carried by good pitching and timely hitting. One has to be concerned with just how sustainable this throughout the marathon that is the MLB season, however, as the teams’ young arms may wear down as the season rolls along.
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Phillies left fielder Tyler Goeddel has been swinging the bat well, despite the team struggling to swing the bat collectively. The 23 year-old Goeddel had a hit in games’ 1 and 2 in this series.
The Phillies would return the favor in game 3 against the Braves with a 5-0 shutout win on Sunday. The Phils received a gem of a performance from the struggling Jerad Eickhoff in the win and put up some gaudy hit totals. Players like Herrera, Goeddel, and Franco returned to form and helped the Phillies offense augment an excellent performance from Eickhoff. The 25 year-old starter threw 7 scoreless innings in the win, while catcher Cameron Rupp opened the scoring for the game with a solo home run in the second inning.
Sunday was just the 9th time all season that the Phillies scored five or more runs this year, according to beat writer Evan Webeck. Like many games this season, the Phils managed to capitalize on a good pitching effort, but their inability to consistently cross the plate can and will tax their pitching as the year progresses. Just something to keep in mind as the Phillies face the Tigers and the red hot Cubs this week.
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According to Philly.com staff writer Marc Narducci, Jerad Eickhoff’s 2nd win of the season is his first since April 13th. He also won that day as well and got the win in a 2-1 ballgame with San Diego.