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The stingray shuffle: Phillies 3, Rays 1

It took eleven innings, but the Phillies extended their road winning streak to 12 games

Philadelphia Phillies v Tampa Bay Rays
Another strong outing from Cristopher Sanchez led the Phillies to victory
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

With fifth starter Cristopher Sanchez facing the dangerous Rays lineup, and the Rays utilizing a bullpen game, it felt like if the Phillies were going to continue their road winning streak, it would be up to the offense. Naturally, the offense struggled to get much going, while Sanchez and the bullpen were brilliant. They held the Rays to one run in eleven innings, and the Phillies emerged with a 3-1 victory to extend their road winning streak to 12 games.

Facing Rays reliever Shawn Armstrong, the Phillies got their first two runners on in the first but failed to do much after that. And by failed to do much, I mean that over the next four innings, the only runner they got on base came via infield single, and he was promptly eliminated by a double play.

Finally, in the fifth, the Phillies got on the board when Darick Hall faced former Phillie Jake Diekman and hit his first home run of the season.

A one-run lead isn’t a lot of run support, especially when facing a lineup like the Rays. But darned if Sanchez didn’t almost make it hold up. He allowed just four hits and no walks in his six innings. The lone blemish came off the bat of Isaac Paredes who matched Hall with a solo shot of his own.

After that, both teams went back to not scoring. There were a few base runners here and there, and Jose Alvarado made things a little hairy in the eighth, but thankfully, he worked his way out of the self-inflicted jam.

The 1-1 tie lasted into the eleventh when Kyle Schwarber followed with a single to score the ghost runner. Trea Turner followed with an RBI of his own, and the Phillies had a 3-1 lead.

It was up to Matt Strahm to close things out. He had already pitched a pristine inning in the tenth, and since that required only eight pitches, he remained in the game. I was critical of Strahm earlier in the season, but he’s been great lately. He walked a batter in the eleventh but followed that up by inducing a game-ending double play.

This was perhaps the Phillies’ best series of the season. The Rays have been nearly unbeatable at home, and the Phillies’ pitching staff was able to shut down one of the best lineups in baseball.

The Phillies will try to extend the streak this weekend when they travel across the state to Miami. Winning in Miami hasn’t been easy for the Phillies in recent years, but if they can sweep the Rays in Tampa, it feels like anything might be possible.