Just days after being swept by the fledgling Chicago Cubs to kick off the second half, the Philadelphia Phillies have claimed a series victory against the National League rival Atlanta Braves. The Phillies sealed the deal on the series victory on Wednesday afternoon, defeating the Braves 7-2. Kyle Gibson earned the victory after six strong innings of work, while Alec Bohm went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBI on the day.
With the victory, the Phillies improve to 51-47 on the season, currently standing 9.5 games behind the Braves for second place in the division. Meanwhile, the Phillies currently find themselves in a battle with the St. Louis Cardinals for the final Wild Card spot for the National League.
How it Happened
It was a quiet contest through the first four frames as neither team could plate a base runner. Things would quickly change, however, in the bottom of the fifth. Bryson Stott, fresh off a five-RBI performance on Monday, worked a leadoff walk against Braves pitcher Charlie Morton. Morton then overthrew first on a pickoff attempt, allowing Stott to advance to third base on the play.
Next up to the plate, Alec Bohm ripped a single into left field with an exit velocity of 102.1 MPH, scoring Stott from third. Didi Gregorius then hit a ground ball to second basemen Robinson Cano, who committed an error while attempting to get Bohm out at second. As the dust settled, Gregorius was safe at first with a fielder’s choice, while Bohm advanced to second on the error.
With two runners on, Odubel Herrera laced a single into left field, scoring Bohm and moving Gregorius to third. Following a sacrifice fly from Kyle Schwarber, Herrera swiped two bags, including a double steal with a freshly walked Rhys Hoskins, to place two runners in scoring position. J.T. Realmuto then closed out the inning’s scoring for the Phillies, hitting a two-RBI double into center field as the Phillies claimed a 5-0 lead over the Braves.
After allowing a leadoff single to Dansby Swanson, Gibson let up a two-run home run to Matt Olson as the Braves attempted to cut into the Phillies’ lead. The home run, Olson’s 20th of the season, would be the Braves’ last hit until the top of the ninth inning.
Meanwhile, the Phillies were just getting started. Nick Castellanos slugged a leadoff double into center field. Two batters later, with one out and a full count, Bohm slapped a double into the right field corner, scoring Castellanos. Following a wild pitch from reliever Tyler Matzek, Bohm stood on third as Gregorius converted on a sacrifice fly into center field, scoring Bohm to increase the Phillies’ lead to 7-2.
Kyle Gibson passed the ball to the bullpen to kick off the seventh inning. Gibson ended the contest having allowed two runs on four hits while striking out four batters across six innings of work. The effort would suffice to earn Gibson the win on the day, improving to a 6-4 record on the season.
In the past, when a Phillies’ starting pitcher passed the ball to the bullpen, there was never a guarantee that the bullpen would successfully finish the job. On Wednesday afternoon, the bullpen did just that as Connor Brogdon, Brad Hand, and Andrew Bellatti combined to throw three scoreless innings, allowing only one hit and one walk as a collective.
Game MVPs: Bohm and the Bullpen
Alec Bohm now finds himself in the midst of a 12-game hitting streak. The 25-year-old owns a crazy .519 batting average over the past seven games, yielding 14 hits, five runs, and five RBI on the stretch. His season batting average, which stood at .252 on June 23rd, is just short of the .300 line as he stands at a .293 average. Bohm also leads the Phillies with 98 hits on the season, with Nick Castellanos coming in second with 93.
The bullpen, meanwhile, came up huge for the Phillies. Brogdon entered in the top of the seventh, pitching a shutdown inning while striking out two Braves batters. Hand and Bellatti then pitched the eighth and ninth, respectively, keeping Braves’ batters off-balance. The once mocked Phillies’ bullpen now owns a very respectable 3.81 ERA on the season as the pitching staff combined owns the ninth best ERA in Major League Baseball (3.79).
Much-Needed Series Victory
Taking down the Phillies breathes a huge breath of air into the Phillies as they head into a Keystone State series with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Phillies own an 11-10 record in the month of July and will have a chance to end the month on a high note as they face the struggling Pirates.
With less than a week remaining until the Trade Deadline, the Phillies taking down the Braves could be exactly what Dave Dombrowski needs to see to commit to bringing in reinforcements for the Phillies as they look to return to the postseason for the first time since 2011.