No, they still haven’t had a stint of explosive games, but the Phialdelphia Phillies’ bats have been clutch late in games during this nine-game, three-city road trip and came back to win another one Friday night.
Down a run in the top of the seventh inning of their series opener against the Toronto Blue Jays, the Phils broke the game open with five runs, all with two outs. The biggest knock in the 5-1 win was Rhys Hoskins’ bases-clearing double off of reliever Tim Mayza.
The Phillies have scored 20 runs in the seventh inning or later in the seven games of this road trip, including 12 in the last four.
They’re 4-3 on the trip and have won all three series openers in Atlanta, Washington, and Dunedin, Florida, the Blue Jays’ temporary home.
The Phillies are 21-18, a half-game behind the NL East-leading New York Mets.
Here’s three takeaways:
Velasquez made his third straight strong start, allowing just one run across 5 2/3 innings.
The game was slow and plodding despite neither team scoring until Vladimir Guerrero Jr. took Velasquez deep to right field for a solo shot in the home sixth.
It’s the first time in his career that Velasquez has gone three straight starts with at least five innings and one run allowed or fewer.
Velasquez has pitched well after his last three starts. He’s still trying to prove he can stay in the rotation, as he’s been in-and-out the last few seasons. He’s definitely looked different since years past, and he’s made good improvements.
In the seventh inning, the Phillies had a runner on first with two outs when the Blue Jays’ bullpen lost command of the zone. Trent Thornton walked Jean Segura and was pulled for Mayza, who walked Bryce Harper to load the bases. J.T. Realmuto worked a game-tying walk after falling behind 0-2.
Hoskins doubled to the gap in left-center to plate three, then Alec Bohm hit a two-bagger off the wall in right field to score Hoskins.
Realmuto scored from first of Hoskins’ double that didn’t even reach the wall. It has to show his knee is some-what healthy.
Important note on Harper: He reached base all five times with a single, a double and three walks. He’s hitting .318/.449/.582 in 136 plate appearances.
The Phillies struggled to get anything going offensively until the seventh. They struck out nine times against a familiar foe in Steven Matz, four of them looking, including three in the fourth inning. This was the 15th time in 39 games the Phillies have struck out at least a dozen times. They’ve done so three more times than any team in the National League.
But they still won. They continue to keep games close, and this week they’ve scored late to tack on or come back and win.
An Alvarado jam
Jose Alvarado worked himself into a jam in the eighth inning by walking Bo Bichette and Guerrero with one out. He got out of it on a line-drive double play to Segura, who just barely beat Bichette back to the bag.
Alvarado has put 23 men on base in 12 2/3 innings but has a 2.84 ERA. It remains to be seen if this can sustain itself over six months, but Alvarado’s allowed a run in only two of his 15 appearances.
The 21-18 Phillies look to win the series Saturday night over the 20-17 Blue Jays.