Phillies baseball on ESPN means the whole baseball world has their eyes on them. No other teams to distract, just Philadelphia and the fans.
And the Cardinals.
Luckily for the Phillies, they had their ace on the mound in Zack Wheeler, which means the odds were ever in their favor. Even with Adam Wainwright on the mound for the Cardinals, it just felt like the home team had the advantage. In the first three innings, it was a pitcher’s duel, both hurlers showing their entire repertoire in keeping the lineups off balance. In the bottom of the fourth, the Phillies struck first when Rhys Hoskins continued his hot hitting ways by depositing a pitch from Wainwright deep into the left field stands.
Wheeler would have a bit of a hiccup in the fifth when he walked the leadoff hitter, but he used the defense behind him to keep the Cardinals at bay. As he was doing his thing on the mound, the Phillies were being stymied by Wainwright.
Until the sixth, that is.
That inning saw Hoskins double to start the inning, then score on a single by none other than Nick Castellanos. Now, on the play, the throw from left field got passed the catcher, but Castellanos remained at first, apparently in conversation with the first base coach and not watching the ball. In the past, those types of mental mistakes come back to haunt the Phillies as plays that could lead to runs don’t. Tonight, though, the team was fortunate when J.T. Realmuto got a hanging curveball and drilled it into the left field stands, making it 4-0.
That was all that Wheeler would need for the night.
The bullpen had been stretched thin over the past two days. Friday night saw Bailey Falter only go four innings and with a chance to win the game, Rob Thomson rightly used all his best relievers to go for it, getting his team that win. Yesterday, the same thing happened where Thomson saw a win there for the taking and asked his best to do it again. That would mean the bullpen for tonight was going to be paper thin and Wheeler was needed to go as many effective innings as he could.
What he gave them, seven innings where he scattered four hits and allowed a single walk, was the perfect antidote for this team. He’s beginning to enter those Cy Young conversations yet again.
For some reason the Phillies are off tomorrow, then they’re back at it on Tuesday against the Nationals.