April is too early for “must win” games. There is still a ton of baseball to be played, a lot of things that could still happen.
But boy did this one feel like a must win for the Phillies.
After playing pretty poor baseball for almost a week, they returned home to face a Cardinals team that was also not exactly playing great baseball themselves. With Zach Eflin on the mound and their rotation shuffled so that two of their three best pitchers going in the series, the table was set for the team to be successful.
They just needed to hit.
It was with that backdrop that the two teams took the field. The first inning ended pretty uneventfully, even with Bryce Harper driving a ball to the fence that looked for sure to be a home run that ended up being just short. It was the bottom of the second inning where things took off for the Phillies.
Facing Carlos Martinez, things started off innocently enough when Alec Bohm hit a ball in the hole with one out, but shortstop Paul DeJong stumbled a bit and didn’t make a throw, giving Bohm a single. The next batter was Didi Gregorius, who singled into the shift and Matt Carpenter missed, putting runners on the corners for Jean Segura. Segura hit a fairly routine fly ball to centerfield that Dylan Carlson lost in the dusk, leading to the game’s first run.
Mickey Moniak was intentionally walked to bring up Eflin....who was plunked by Martinez to score another run. Andrew McCutchen singled home two to make the score 4-0 before Rhys Hoskins walked to load the bases back up for Harper. This time, Harper laced a double to right center that scored two more and made it a six spot in the second inning and ended up being all that they needed.
Bryce Harper looks locked in at the plate tonight. pic.twitter.com/1bPKuY9JUV— Phillies Nation (@PhilliesNation) April 16, 2021
That’s when Eflin took over.
Eflin was magnificent this evening. He breezed with relative ease through the Cardinals’ lineup, never really threatened at all. He scattered four hits through seven innings before allowing a double and a home run in the eighth inning to break up the shutout before departing the game, but he was ace-like for a team that really needed a performance like that from someone in the starting rotation.
J.T. Realmuto added some insurance in the seventh inning with a two-run blast to left field that gave the team their seventh and eighth runs.
JT Realmuto and the Phillies are CRUSHING— Starting 9 (@Starting9) April 17, 2021
When McCutchen drilled a single down the line in the eighth inning that plated the team’s ninth run, that was the icing on the cake. Brandon Kintzler locked down a boring (thankfully!) ninth inning, the Phillies locked up their sixth home win in seven tries this season.
These two teams will go back at it again tomorrow when the Phillies send Matt Moore to the mound to try and keep the home cookin’ hot.