Final Score: Phillies 9, Cardinals 2
After combining for only four runs in three games against the Mets, the Phillies’ bats showed some signs of life in the series opener against the Cardinals. They put up six runs in the second in what was a miserable inning for a team that was ranked among the best defensive ball clubs in baseball in recent years. J.T. Realmuto homered for the second time this season.
But the story of the night was Zach Eflin’s stellar outing. With the rotation struggling the way it has been, the Phillies needed a starter to inject some confidence in the team and that’s exactly what he did. In spring training, Eflin spoke extensively about how he sees himself as a top-of-the-line starter and so far, he’s backed up his words.
The Phillies will go for the series win on Saturday afternoon. Matt Moore will face Kwang Hyun Kim, who will make his first start of the season.
- Bryce Harper nearly missed a first-inning home run. He pelted a slider from Carlos Martínez to right-center field. The wind held it up and Tommy Edman made the catch along the fence for the final out. It would happen all over again in the bottom of the fourth.
- The Phillies put up a six-spot in what was an enthralling bottom of the second. Two misplayed ground balls off the bats of Alec Bohm and Didi Gregorius lead to a double from Jean Segura that should have been caught by Cardinals center fielder Dylan Carlson. For some reason, he was about 90 ft. away from where the baseball actually landed.
- With the bases loaded, Zach Eflin was hit in the sweet spot to make it 2-0 Phillies. Andrew McCutchen followed up with a two-run single to left.
- Harper finished it off with a two-run double that will surely make up for the home run he narrowly missed in the first. The Phillies sent 12 men to the plate and recorded five hits in the second.
- With two on and two out in the top of the sixth, the Cardinals had their best opportunity to get back into the game against Eflin. With Nolan Arenado up, Eflin got the star third baseman to chase a high fastball for the final out.
- J.T. Realmuto solidified the game with a two-run home run that hugged the foul pole and somehow pinballed two sections over to a lucky fan sitting in left field.
- Justin Williams broke Eflin’s scoreless nod and notched his first career home run in the top of the eighth. Eflin won’t be happy that he gave up a homer on his final pitch of the night.
- The Phillies continued to BABIP their way to victory in the eighth. McCutchen’s grounder to third hit the bag, scoring Segura and expanding the Phillies’ lead to seven runs. It was McCutchen’s third RBI of the night.
- Connor Brogdon and Brandon Kintzler threw scoreless frames in the eighth and ninth innings respectively.
Shibe Vintage Sports Starting Pitching Performance
Carlos Martínez: 5 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO, 81 pitches
The Cardinals’ defense in the second inning was Martínez’s kryptonite in this game. He did struggle with command and even hit two batters as he struggled in the second, but the 29-year-old retired all nine batters he faced following the second.
Zach Eflin: 7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 SO, 104 pitches
Phillies Nuggets Player of the Game: Zach Eflin
When Eflin is on, his command is precise and his innings are short. He got ahead 0-2 of 10 of the 24 hitters he faced, including a five-batter streak that spanned from the second to fourth innings. Without heavy usage of his curveball, one of his signature swing-and-miss weapons, Eflin was able to strike out six St. Louis hitters and induce six groundball outs. He also had an RBI to his name after a hit-by-pitch.
The Phillies were without three coaches in Friday’s game: Hitting coach Joe Dillon, third-base coach Dusty Wathan and bullpen coach Dave Lundquist were all out due to COVID-19 protocols. Joe Girardi said after the game that he is unable to give a timetable for their return.
Quote of the Game
Harper spoke postgame on Eflin’s performance.
“I’m never shocked when he does that. People that see him every fifth day, they know he has it in him. … The stuff is there. The way he goes out there. When he’s got that sinker working. That slider is absolutely disguising. It’s fun to watch. He’s always a competitor. He wants to be good. He’s going to be a guy for us.”
Ticket IQ Next Game
- Saturday, April 17 at 4:05 vs. St. Louis Cardinals
- Citizens Bank Park
- TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia
- Radio: 94 WIP
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