The long ten game road trip started with a bang on July 22. Young Zach Eflin carried the Phillies en route to a 4-0 complete game shutout – the first of his career. That was really the only sign of life the Phils showed on the road trip. They finished 4-6, not winning any of the three series in Pittsburgh, Miami, and Atlanta (split).
The Phillies lost two leads in Pittsburgh, were pummeled twice in Miami, and sputtered offensively in two losses against the Atlanta, all recipes for disaster. Although the Phils finished the trip with a losing record, there were some positives we can look to for the remainder of the season.
Aaron Altherr returned to action for the first time all year on Thursday night after tearing a tendon in his wrist in Spring Training. Altherr made his presence felt early in his first game back, posting a 3-for-4 day that included a two-run home run. The 6’5″ right hander will likely get the bulk of the playing time in the outfield, and a chance to prove his case for next season.
Skipper Pete Mackanin juggled the lineup a bit – moving second baseman Cesar Hernandez to the leadoff spot and dropping Odubel Herrera to the two-hole. Hernandez raised his average eleven points to .289 at trips end. Not really known for taking pitches, Hernandez impressiely worked out eleven walks over the ten games. Perhaps this could be a new approach that will keep Hernandez in the leadoff role.
Jerad Eickhoff was lights out in his two starts during the trip. Eickhff recorded 12 innings of one run ball in Miami and Atlanta. Unfortunately, the rain in Atlanta prevented Eickhoff from pitching further into the game.
The Phils record drops to 48-59, good for 14 games out of the NL East and ten out of the second wildcard. Coming out of the break the Phils were looking to make a wild card push at just six games out. Heading into August, the Phils will play their remaining games purely for pride.
The Phils enjoy an off day tomorrow before taking the field Tuesday night against the NL West leading San Francisco Giants. Zach Eflin will take on three-time World Series champ Madison Bumgarner in game one at 7:05.