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We should play Atlanta all the time: Phillies 3, Braves 2

Ho hum, another day, another victory over the Braves

Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Heading into tonight’s game, Phillies’ pitching had been pretty up and down. For every Aaron Nola amazing start, there was a Nick Pivetta stinker. However, the past two nights saw both starters, Nola on Sunday, Zach Eflin last night, had both gone at least seven innings, preserving a bullpen that had been beleaguered up to those games. Tonight, Jerad Eickhoff almost continued that streak, “only” going 6 23 innings of two run baseball, but was still effective enough to record his third win of the season. Freddy Galvis and Odubel Herrera accounted for just about all of the offense, each going 2 for 4 with a run batted in each. Cesar Hernandez reached base again with a single, making 20 out of 21 games he has gotten base safely. Back to Herrera, he continued his hitting streak, stretching it to 12 games by supplying two triples, including one that supplied two runs, one by his triple, the other on a subsequent error.

Let’s talk about Herrera for a minute.

It wasn’t long ago that he was getting ripped by media and fans alike. Most of it started with Mike Schmidt’s comments back in June, but they’ve continued throughout the summer. These comments came after Herrera endured probably the worst month of his career. In May, he hit .183/.196/.257. It wasn’t fun to watch and it isn’t fun to remember. Of course, most hitters go through slumps, but his dreadfulness, combined with his penchant for the strange on the field, made him an easy target.

Yet, since then, all he has done is hit. Since the calendar switched to June (before tonight, of course), Herrera has batted .338/.380/.571 with 22 doubles, nine home runs, and 33 runs scored. His 147 wRC+ since that time is t-22nd among batters with 150 or more plate appearances in that time frame. Sure, that .404 BABIP makes it seem luck driven at first glance, but anyone who has watched him knows that he is stinging the ball more often than not. It’s these types of runs that should remind fans that while the mental lapses are frustrating, the talent is just too much to simply run him out of town.

While Herrera was great again last night, the biggest story of the game is how effective Eickhoff was. He threw 94 pitches, 67 of which were strikes. It continues his comeback from his trip to the disabled list where he has gone at least six innings in four of his six starts. He’s also lowered his ERA from a season high of 5.22 on June 12 to 4.45 after tonight’s game. He’s putting to rest any of the doubt that the league had caught up to him and he was failing to make adjustments.

Tonight’s victory makes it six in a row against Atlanta and 11 out of 13 on the season. It is easily the best they have performed against any one team this season. They will look to continue their winning ways this weekend in Philadelphia against the suddenly Jay Bruce-less Mets.