Zach Eflin’s disastrous debut against the Blue Jays in Toronto five starts ago... are we sure that actually happened?
The game took a mere 2:08 to complete, with Eflin moving through Atlanta hitters like a fire hose through tissue paper.
Since that disaster in Toronto, Eflin has a 2.03 ERA in his last four starts, with 13 strikeouts and just one walk in 26 2/3 innings. He is also the first Phillies starter to throw a complete game for his first career victory since Mike Williams in 1992. That game also happened on July 5, 24 years ago to the night.
Atlanta hitters put the ball in play all night, hitting into three double plays, which kept Eflin out of trouble early. He gave up six hits and finished with six strikeouts and no walks against a weak Braves offense, with the only damage coming on a home run to former Phillie Ender Inciarte in the 7th inning.
It was good to see another Phillies starter go deep into a game, giving an overworked bullpen a much needed night off. It is the second straight night a Phils hurler has pitched into the 8th inning. Prior to Jerad Eickhoff’s 7 1/3 inning gem on Monday, no Phils pitcher had gone more than seven innings since Vince Velasquez’ 16-strikeout complete game shutout against San Diego on April 14.
Before yesterday, Phillies had a SP pitch more than 7 IP only once in 83 games (Velasquez's 16 K CG). Have now done it in back-to-back games— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) July 6, 2016
His Game Score of 79 tied for the second-best so far this year (two Aaron Nola starts also had a Game Score of 79), and it was just the third start this season in which a Phillies starter pitched into the 8th inning.
The "B" story on Tuesday night was the Phils’ still-powerful offense, which blasted four solo homers against Braves fireballing starter Mike Foltynewicz.
Maikel Franco homered for the third straight game, the first time in his career he’s done that. Peter Bourjos extended his hitting streak to 14 games, the longest by a Phillie in more than two years, after his solo blast in the 1st inning. Cody Asche continued his hot five weeks with a long dinger, and Tommy Joseph broke out of his slump with a longball, one of his two hits on the night.
The Phillies have won nine of their last 12 games, and over their last 14 are averaging 5.93 runs per game. That’s a hair better than the 3.11 runs that had been putting up per contest in their first 71.
And don’t look now, but the Phillies are 39-46, seven games under .500. It’s not time to start posting wild card standings or anything, but an improved offense and some solid pitching (not to mention some weaker teams on the schedule) have helped the Phils creep closer to .500 once again.