After the first-place Philadelphia Phillies (15-12) dropped the opener of this four-game series with the last-place Miami Marlins (8-19), an unlikely and troubling scenario was presenting itself.
The Phillies roster was noticeably improved this past off-season by an influx of free agents and trade acquisitions. Much was expected of a team that was viewed as a legitimate contender, and they got off to a hot start.
But that loss in the series opener left the Phillies just a game over the .500 mark and struggling. They had lost six of their previous eight games and had suffered a series of recent injuries that seemed to sap the life out of the squad.
In order to win a division crown or a Wildcard playoff berth, teams are going to need to find a way to overcome injuries and other challenges. They are going to have to win series. And they are especially going to have to win the series that they are supposed to win.
This series against a bottom-dweller team at home was one that the Phillies needed to win, injuries or not. Losing the opener meant that in order to accomplish that, the club would have to capture three straight. Well, we are almost there. The Phillies have recovered to win on Friday and Saturday nights, setting up the chance to win the series with a Sunday afternoon victory.
They won on Saturday night after building up what seemed to be an insurmountable 10-1 lead after five innings. But the Marlins, who have made an early-season habit of playing their best baseball on Saturdays, roared back to cut the deficit to just 10-9. Rhys Hoskins stepped up with a huge two-run home run in the bottom of the 8th inning to clinch a 12-9 victory, setting up this Sunday opportunity.
Phillies shortstop Jean Segura, playing in his first game since being activated from the Injured List, was literally knocked out of the game on Saturday night when he was hit in the head by a pitch from Marlins starter Trevor Richards. His initial concussion examination came back negative, and after a re-evaluation this morning, Segura was cleared to play.
Phillies Nation wishes public address announcer Dan Baker well. An undisclosed illness caused Baker to miss his first game since Citizens Bank Park opened back in 2004. Generations of fans have listened as he introduced lineups, served as emcee for many events, and made numerous other announcements both at Veteran’s Stadium and CBP since 1972.
The Phillies currently are the only team in the National League East Division standings with a winning record. They hold a 1.5 game lead on the New York Mets, one game in the loss column. The Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals are both two games back in the loss column.
SUNDAY STARTING LINEUPS
- Andrew McCutchen CF
- Jean Segura SS
- Bryce Harper RF
- Rhys Hoskins 1B
- Nick Williams LF
- Cesar Hernandez 2B
- Andrew Knapp C
- Maikel Franco 3B
- Zach Eflin P
- Jon Berti 3B
- Martin Prado 1B
- Brian Anderson RF
- Starlin Castro 2B
- Miguel Rojas SS
- Isaac Galloway LF
- Chad Wallach C
- Lewis Brinson CF
- Pablo Lopez P
SHIBE VINTAGE SPORTS STARTING PITCHING MATCHUP
- Zach Eflin: 2-3, 4.15 ERA, 1.346 WHIP, 30 hits allowed over 26 IP (5 starts) with a 23/5 K:BB
- In his only other appearance at Citizens Bank Park this season, Eflin went 7 innings to beat the Twins
- Eflin has five career starts against Miami: 2-2, 5.52 ERA, 31 hits including eight home runs over 29.1 IP
- Pablo Lopez: 2-3, 4.44 ERA, 1.177 WHIP, 26 hits allowed over 26.1 IP (5 starts) with a 29/5 K:BB
- Lopez registered his best start of the season thus far in his last outing. Went 6.1 IP at Cleveland allowing just two hits and no earned runs to the host Indians with six strikeouts and two walks.
- Lopez has one career start at Citizens Bank Park and it was a good one. Last August 2 he allowed just five hits over six innings, one of those a solo home run from Hoskins, in a 5-2 loss to the Phillies.
PHILLIES NUGGETS PREGAME NOTES
- With a win today it would be the first time that the Phillies have won five straight home series against any team since they defeated the Padres in six straight over 2011-16. The Phillies are 13-3 against the Marlins over these last five series, outscoring the Fish by 118-49.
- Per Elias, Hoskins 60th career home run in his 229th game made him the second-fastest Phillies player ever to reach the 60-homer plateau behind Ryan Howard, who did it in 209 games. Since his MLB debut on 8/10/17, Hoskins leads the National League in home runs. He and Mike Trout are the only big-leaguers with at least 50 homers and 140 walks in that time period.
- The Phillies now have 96 extra-base hits, tying the franchise record prior to May. They now have a combined 38 home runs, the most prior to May since the 2008 club banged out 41.
- Both Hoskins and Maikel Franco have 22 RBIs, five behind Howard’s pre-May club record. The Phillies have one remaining April game after Sunday. If Bryce Harper (19 RBI) drives in another run on Sunday or Tuesday it would mark the first time in team history that three players drove in 20+ prior to May.
- Cesar Hernandez has hit safely in eight straight games and 13 of his last 14. Over the last 76 plate appearances he is hitting .333 with a .395 on-base percentage.
- The Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau and its PHL Sports division have announced that Phillies Chairman David Montgomery would receive its Lifetime Achievement Award during a ceremony on June 11.
SUNDAY PROGRAMMING INFORMATION
- Sunday April 28 at 1:05 pm vs. the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park
- This will be the Phillie Phanatic birthday celebration: hooded towels to kids 14 and under
- TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia
- Radio: SportsRadio 94 WIP, WTTM 1680 (Spanish)
MORE FROM PHILLIES NATION:
- Rhys Hoskins plays the hero role as Phillies take Saturday night barn-burner
- Larry Shenk’s Phillies Minor League Report: 4/28/19
- The Phillies went to Jerad; Eickhoff paces club to victory over Marlins
- Fans need to calm down, Bryce Harper will be just fine
- Phillies Top 20 Prospects: April 2019