The Phillies beat the Brewers 4-3 today, and it feels like a miracle. I know it shouldn’t, but it does. The Brewers were a buzzsaw this weekend, and that the Phillies managed to eke out one win and avoid being swept feels like an absolute gift.
Zach Eflin more than did his job today. He allowed three hits and two runs in six innings, walking one and striking out a career-high nine batters. But it wasn’t totally clean — the fifth inning was heart-pounding.
Zach Eflin escaped the fifth inning by allowing only two runs despite two HBP and one walk. He then strikes out the side in the sixth. Ties a career high with nine strikeouts.— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) June 10, 2018
But he went back out for the sixth and struck out all three batters. He’s a back-end starter, and that is a high-quality outing from your fifth starter.
The offense struggled today as usual. The first run only scored because of a pickoff that went wide — after Cesar Hernandez singled to lead-off the game, he made it to third on a throwing error and scored on a Rhys Hoskins RBI groundout.
The Phillies’ three other runs scored in the fifth. J.P. Crawford singled, and then there was another fielding error that allowed Andrew Knapp to reach. And then Zach Eflin laid down a bunt that bounced right in front of home plate in an attempt to sacrifice both runners, and Jesus Aguilar (I think) snagged it and threw it to Travis Shaw at third base — only Crawford had gotten a fantastic jump at second base and he beat the throw. Throwing it to first would have ensured an out, but that bad choice meant everyone was safe — though it didn’t count as a hit. Then Cesar walked in a run, and suddenly the game was tied. Then two more run scored on a sac fly and a forceout — also not hits! That’s three runs on one hit. It was Hoskins that hit the sac fly, which led John Clark to tweet this.
Once you see it, you can’t unsee it. Which is good because I freaking love it, I love it so much.
The Phillies had two more hits in the sixth inning, their only other major scoring opportunity of the day. Crawford hit a two-out double, Knapp then walked, and Aaron Altherr singled to load the bases. But with two outs, you know what happened next. Hernandez struck out looking, and no one scored. In all, that’s just four hits in the entire game, and Crawford’s double was the only one that went for extra bases. But they scored four runs, and that’s what counts.
Four runs didn’t seem like it was going to be enough, especially when the Brewers scored a third run, which run came from the hand of Seranthony Dominguez. He pitched two innings and was excellent for the most part, except for those three hits (all singles, and all in the eighth inning, but yikes) and one run. But considering how well he’s been doing, it’s hard to be upset. He did this in the seventh.
I mean come on. That’s just unfair. [evil laughter]
I’m eager to see how Gabe Kapler uses him going forward. If the Phillies’ intention is to turn him into an Andrew Miller type, I can get behind that. I just want to make sure he’s capable of it, and they’re careful about stretching him back out from one-inning appearances to two-inning appearances.
Of course, things got funky in the ninth inning. I get why Kap sent Dominguez out for the seventh and eighth, but halfway into the eighth inning I was wondering who was going to start the ninth. I didn’t like any of the options, but Kap chose the guy I wanted to see the least: Luis Garcia. And that’s because Luis Garcia sucks right now. Since the start of May, he has a 4.50 ERA. That doesn’t include today, but Garcia tried as hard as he could to make that go up. He managed two outs, but then allowed a single and a double, which put a runner on first and the go-ahead runner on third. And as we all tried to avoid having terror-flashbacks of the late-innings games the bullpen has blown lately, Kap brought in Tommy Hunter, and he induced a groundout on just two pitches and the game was over and I exhaled for the first time in almost three hours.
The Brewers are the better team, and it says a lot that the Phillies could only beat them because the Brewers essentially beat themselves. But a win is a win is a win, no matter how it happens. I think we’ll all take it.