Admit it, you gave up on Zach Eflin too.
I know coming into 2019, I was ready to get rid of Eflin in favor of someone else. I felt that he had been given his chance and shown he isn’t much more than a #5 guy who can be skipped every now and then in the rotation because, well, he doesn’t give much of anything.
Boy have I been wrong.
Sunday was another example of it. Eflin pitched his second consecutive strong outing, shutting down the Nationals’ lineup over seven innings, allowing four hits, one run and two walks, while striking out five. He threw 108 pitches, also his second consecutive outing where he went over the century mark with his pitch count. He even participated in the inning that got the Phillies rolling.
Entering the bottom of the sixth, the teams were locked in a slog that it seemed no one wanted to be in. The day was cold and rainy, a generally miserable experience to have to be on the diamond. It was 2-1 in favor of the Phillies, and it felt like at any minute, something would go wrong and they would find themselves down once again. Luckily, the Nationals had dipped into their bullpen the inning prior, meaning the starting lineup of the Phillies had to face the worst bullpen in baseball with a chance to pad the lead. They capitalized.
With runners on first and third, and one out, Eflin came to the plate looking to perhaps drive in a run, or to move the runner over at worst. Gabe Kapler decided a safety squeeze was in order, one that Eflin got down perfectly, making the score 3-1. What made it better was that a miscommunication between the Nationals’ catcher and first baseman allowed Eflin to reach safely. When Andrew McCutchen walked to load the bases, Jean Segura showed that his hamstring is just fine by beating out a potential double play ball, extending the lead to 4-1. Bryce Harper singled in another run, followed by a two run Rhys Hoskins double and suddenly the game felt over at 7-1. It showed that this team can score in a hurry if a defense makes mistakes and allows them to have extra outs.
This game felt big because last night was so deflating. Now the team can head off to St. Louis feeling good, having won 6 of 8.