On Thursday afternoon, the brooms were out in South Philadelphia. All four Phillies starting pitchers threw the ball well, and the back of the Phillies’ bullpen held up their end of the bargain.
In game one, strong pitching, a dominating offensive performance, and a little bit of luck led the Phillies to an 8-2 win to begin the series.
Kyle Gibson took the mound for the Phillies. Gibson, the winning pitcher, went 6.2 innings and allowed two runs. Gibson was a little shaky in the first two innings, but he settled in and gave the Phillies a chance to come back after being down 2-0.
The Phillies took the lead in the bottom of the third thanks to doubles from JT Realmuto and Kyle Schwarber. Schwarber’s was not a traditional double, but it got the job done. He popped the ball up between left field and center field, and a lack of communication among the outfielders caused the ball to drop. After that, the Phillies did not stop. Bryce Harper hit a home run in the fifth, and he hit a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning. All it took was a few defensive errors and some small-ball to give the Phillies a six-run lead.
Kyle Freeland, the starter for the Rockies, allowed four runs in five innings, but only one of the four runs that he surrendered was earned.
Once again, the Phillies’ bullpen was solid. Seranthony Dominguez, Jeurys Familia, James Norwood, and Bailey Falter threw a total of 3.1 scoreless innings to keep the Rockies out of reach. Considering Jeurys Familia and Seranthony Dominguez both had a rough outing recently, it was good to see them get back on track.
Game two was another fun one. Zach Eflin started for the Phightins, and German Marquez had the ball for the Rockies.
In the second, Didi Gregorius hit an infield single off of a check swing to give the Phillies an early lead. Two batters later, chaos broke out in the Rockies’ infield. German Marquez threw a wild pitch, and the Rockies’ catcher Dom Nunez threw the ball past German Marquez when he threw the ball back to him. Ultimately, the Phillies scored two runs off of this play thanks to heads-up baserunning from Didi Gregorius and Alec Bohm.
The Phillies’ offense exploded in the bottom of the fourth, as they were able to extend their lead to seven. Alec Bohm singled in JT Realmuto, Odubel Herrera doubled in Didi Gregorius, Jean Segura singled in Odubel, and Rhys Hoskins ended the rally by doubling in Jean Segura.
German Marquez ended up lasting 3.2 innings. He allowed seven runs (four earned) over seven hits. He struck out one. Besides Jhoulys Chacin, the Rockies bullpen threw well. Odubel Herrera took Chacin into the stands in the sixth inning to further extend the Phils’ lead.
Zach Eflin, the Phillies’ starter, threw six solid innings and allowed just one run. He used his sinker to produce groundballs, and he stayed in the strike zone throughout the entire game. Control is rarely an issue for Eflin, but he commanded his fastball especially well on the outside portion of the plate.
Charlie Blackmon homered twice for the Rockies, but it was not enough to force a comeback as the Phillies maintained their lead throughout the game. Jose Iglesias hit an RBI double off of Damon Jones in the ninth inning, but the Phillies still came out victorious in the end.
On Wednesday night, Ranger Suarez took the mound for the Phillies. Suarez allowed three runs, but he was able to make it through six innings. Suarez was very solid through the first two innings, but he lost control of his main pitch—the changeup—in the third inning.
The Phillies’ offense was able to string together twelve hits. Odubel Herrera hit the second pitch of the game into the stands, and he hit a sacrifice fly in the second inning. Two RBI singles tied the game up in the top of the third, but the Phillies reclaimed the lead bottom half of the inning. Nick Castellanos hit an RBI groundout, and Didi Gregorius hit a double off the top of the left field wall. Garrett Stubbs hit an RBI triple, Alec Bohm hit an RBI single, and Didi Gregorius hit a sacrifice fly to provide the Phillies with insurance runs.
Joe Girardi used five relief pitchers through three innings, but it got the job done. The bullpen maintained the lead, and the Phillies came out on top with a 7-3 final score.
In game four, Zack Wheeler showed signs of returning to his 2021 form. Wheeler threw six innings and allowed just one hit. He struck out seven over 90 pitches. His fastball stayed consistent around 96 miles per hour, and he commanded his fastball better despite walking four batters.
Southpaw Austin Gomber was on the hill for the Rockies, and he pitched pretty decently. He struck out six and allowed just two earned runs in six innings. His biggest mistake was the 2-0 changeup that he left over the plate to Alec Bohm. 398 feet later, the Phillies were up by three runs.
Brad Hand ran into some trouble in the seventh inning, but he made it through the inning only allowing one run to score.
Late in the game, the Rockies lost all of their composure, and the Phillies capitalized. In the bottom of the seventh inning, the Phillies extended their lead by four runs, yet they only had one hit in the inning. You’re confused? I bet. J.T. Realmuto led off the inning with a walk, Matt Vierling walked, and Connor Joe booted a groundball that Didi Gregorius spun off the end of his bat. Roman Quinn, the nine-hole hitter in game four, walked on four pitches to force a run to score. Jean Segura hit a fly-ball between centerfield and right field, and poor communication led to the ball dropping for a single. With two outs, Bud Black wanted to take the safe route by bringing in a new pitcher to face Bryce Harper. That plan did not end as expected. Harper was hit by a pitch, and Nick Castellanos worked out a walk to make it 7-1.
James Norwood and Damon Jones were able to hold the Phillies’ six-run lead with ease to finish the sweep.
Capitalizing off of mistakes
“Things just kind of went our way,” Joe Girardi said in his postgame interview.
To a certain extent, that can summarize this series. The Rockies made a handful of defensive errors, and the Phillies used them to their advantage. The Phillies scored seven runs on Thursday, and they recorded just four hits as a team. If you break this down further, you’ll see that Roman Quinn had a bunt single, and Jean Segura’s single in the seventh inning should have been caught. If we put those two “hits” and Alec Bohm’s home run aside, the only other hit came from Bryce Harper—a single to centerfield in the top of the sixth inning.
In the series, the Rockies had four errors, and that is generous considering that they had multiple communication errors and multiple wild pitches.
The powder blues debut
Last Saturday, we got to see the Phillies sport their cream-colored jerseys for the first time this season. On Thursday, the Phillies wore their throwback powder-blue uniforms for the first time this season. Typically, they wear these jerseys every Thursday, but the shipment was behind. This caused them to have just three jerseys to choose from to begin the season: the red, the away greys, and their home pinstripes. For the rest of the season, we should get to see the Phillies mixing in their alternate jerseys now that they have all arrived.
Dominant Starting Pitching
We have been waiting all season for the starting pitchers to find their grooves. In the sixth series of the season, we were finally able to find it.
Kyle Gibson has been good all season, and he continued to pitch well in game one of this series. It was not an easy 5.2 innings, but he made it through with only two runs crossing the plate. He recorded ten (!) groundball outs in the game, and he utilized his slider as an excellent put-away pitch.
Zach Eflin was very emotional during Spring Training. Eflin had surgery in the offseason, and he recovered much faster than anticipated. He pitched well in his first start in Spring Training, and he showed lots of emotion postgame.
Now, Eflin is contributing to the major league roster every five days. In six innings on Tuesday, he allowed just two hits and one run. He struggled in his first few starts of the season, but he mixed his pitches better and used his sinker more effectively in this start.
Zack Wheeler was in a similar situation as Eflin. Wheeler had a very good feel for his curveball, and his velocity was consistent through all six innings that he pitched. Two starts ago, Wheeler was very inconsistent with the velocity of his fastball. He now has two straight starts where he kept his fastball velocity around 96 miles per hour throughout the entirety of the start, which is very good to see.
Bryce Harper striving in role as DH
Due to an elbow injury, Bryce Harper has had to abandon right field for the time being and assume the role of DH. Recently, Harper has been throwing every day, but he claims that there is still soreness in his elbow. Knowing this, he will stay as the DH for the near future.
Is this a bad thing? Yes, and no. Harper enjoys playing right field, and he has said that he prefers being in the game as opposed to wandering around the dugout while his team is on the field.
In his first ten games as the DH, he had an OPS of 1.106. After Harper’s last game in right field, he was hitting .156 with an OPS of .644. A few series later, he brought his average up to .276, and he raised his OPS over .200 points. And not only has Bryce Harper begun to figure things out, but the team as a whole is starting to click, too.
The Phillies will head to Rhode Island to face the division-rival New York Mets.