Earl Weaver, the biggest proponent of the three-run home run in his day, would have been proud of our friend Andrew McCutchen today. Still feeling his way back from knee surgery, Cutch delivered a knockout blow in the first inning and the team didn’t look back.
First inning leads are the best, made especially sweet when they are against your division rivals. Once Aaron Nola shook his first inning issues, if only for a day, the top offense in the National League went to work. Didi Gregorius shocked the entire ballpark with a one out bunt single, Jay Bruce hit a two out single that sent Gregorius to second and brought McCutchen to the plate. Now, thus far, Joe Girardi has tried to keep the hot bat of Bruce in the lineup by having him take starts at first base over the struggling Rhys Hoskins. McCutchen has been the beneficiary since he and his superior defense have gotten the bulk of the starts in left field. Today, he started to heat the bat up a bit, bashing a three-run home run in the first inning to stake the team to a lead. Nola continued cruising into the third when the Phillies went to work again. Segura and Gregorius had back-to-back doubles, scoring another run. Bruce hit a sacrifice fly that scored Gregorius for both the second run and second out of the inning, bringing McCutchen back up. He proceeded to hit a first pitch, solo home run that ended starter Mike Foltynewicz’s day and stretched the lead to 6-0.
Nola gave up a solo home run to Johan Camargo in the fourth, then allowed another run to score on an error of his own making in the sixth, but for the large part was quite effective against Atlanta on this date.
Logan Forsythe, starting for Scott Kingery this evening, made it 7-2 when he laced an RBI double in the seventh that scored Adam Haseley. The Braves tried to make it interesting in the final few frames, Camargo especially when he homered again, but the bullpen largely held. Victor Arano continued his dominant start to the year with his second save, getting the opportunity over the resting Hector Neris and the Phillies captured their fifth straight win.
The team seems to be getting hot, scoring 40 runs over those last five games. They currently rank first in the National League in runs scored, batting average, on-base percentage, and OPS. They’re second in batting WAR and third in home runs. They’re clicking right now.
Tomorrow they send Spencer Howard out to try and complete the sweep.