Final Score: Nationals 5, Phillies 1
The Philadelphia Phillies talked this past winter like they believed that Zach Eflin had a chance to take a major step forward in 2021. Entering Thursday, he had done that, posting a 3.38 ERA and 2.59 FIP in his first seven starts of the 2021 season, firmly placing him into the All-Star discussion.
Unfortunately for the Phillies, the Washington Nationals got after Eflin in the home half of the first Thursday, which doomed the Phillies chances of sweeping their division rivals, and certainly hurt the 27-year-old righty’s case to be an All-Star.
After taking two of three from the Nationals, the Phillies will head to Dunedin, Florida for a three-game weekend set with the indefinitely-displaced Toronto Blue Jays. Vince Velasquez – who has been pretty serviceable as a starter in 2021 – is slated to get the ball for Joe Girardi in the first game of the series.
- Alec Bohm came to the plate with runners on the corners and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. The Nationals appeared to have Bryce Harper picked off at first base, the only problem was that Andrew McCutchen was on third base and likely would have scored before Harper got caught in the rundown. So Nationals first baseman Josh Bell fired the ball home, and his errant throw gave McCutchen just enough room to score. If that sounds confusing, well, it was:
- The Phillies didn’t have the lead for long, as Kyle Schwarber hit a two-run, opposite-field home run off of Zach Eflin in the home half of the first.
- Additionally, Bell atoned for his mistake rather quickly, hitting a two-run home run of his own, this one of the second-deck variety:
- The Nationals added onto their lead in the home half of the sixth inning, as Starlin Castro hit a ball just out of Bohm’s reach at third base, which ultimately went for a double and allowed Juan Soto to score and Schwarber to reach third base. Fortunately for the Phillies, Eflin was able to limit any further damage, striking out Bell and Patrick Corbin to strand runners on second and third base.
- Thanks to a leadoff double from Brad Miller, the Phillies did mount something of a threat in the top of the eighth inning. But Daniel Hudson came on for the Nationals with runners on first and second and one out. It took Hudson eight pitches, but he struck out Harper, before inducing an inning-ending groundout from Rhys Hoskins.
- Austin Voth finished off the game in the bottom of the ninth, retiring the Phillies in order.
Shibe Vintage Sports Starting Pitching Performance
- Zach Eflin entered the day as the ninth-ranked starter in baseball (even ahead of reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Shane Bieber), according to FanGraphs. It’s safe to say he won’t stay at that spot, after allowing seven hits and five runs in six innings. There’s something to be said for consistently pitching at least six innings even when you don’t have it, but despite his nine strikeouts Thursday, it wasn’t a good day for Eflin.
- It wasn’t that long ago that the Phillies were seen as suitors – and maybe even favorites – for Patrick Corbin in free agency before he signed a six-year/$140 million deal with the Nationals. The Phillies probably ended up better off signing Zack Wheeler the following offseason, but they couldn’t solve Corbin on Thursday afternoon. Despite entering the game with a 7.36 ERA in six starts this season, Corbin went seven innings, scattering five hits and one run, while striking out nine.
Ticket IQ Next Game
- Friday, May 21, 2021 at Toronto Blue Jays
- TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Florida
- 7:37 p.m. ET starting time
- TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia +
- Radio: SportsRadio 94 WIP
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