Phillies scramble to narrow win of the Angels to keep remarkable run going

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Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Zack Wheeler walks off the field after being pulled during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox, Saturday, April 20, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The Philadelphia Phillies took the field in the early afternoon for their final game in Anaheim this season. After a loss in Game 1 followed by a 9th inning come-from-behind stunner in Game 2, Philadelphia had a chance to preserve their streak of not losing a series in 7 straight. In another close contest with the Angels, Philly was able to extend that streak to 8, taking the game and series 2-1. Let’s see how they got there.

Pitching continues dominant run

The Phillies pitching staff, especially the starting pitching, has been the reason for their early season success. They were the first team in the majors to reach 20 wins, and they set a new franchise record for wins in April with 19. They are rolling on offense as well, but the pitching staff has been strong in all aspects.

Today was no different. Zack Wheeler did not pitch like his normal self, and was still able to limit the Angels production against him. Wheeler has said in the past that he does not like to pitch on extended rest, and after the Phillies briefly went to a 6-man rotation, it showed against the Angels.

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Philadelphia Phillies’ Zack Wheeler pitches during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox, Saturday, April 20, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

He finished the day with 5.0 innings pitched, scattering 5 hits and 1 walk, with 6 strikeouts on 106 pitches – he was at 74 after just 3 innings. One of those hits was a solo home run from Ehire Adrianza – his first of the season – in the second inning, which accounted for the Angels only run of the game.

After the 5th inning, Matt Strahm and Orion Kerkering came in for the 6th and 7th, respectively. Each man struck out 2 in their inning of work, with Kerkering walking a batter. José Alvarado came in for the 8th inning and did allow 3 hits, but thanks to JT Realmuto throwing out Taylor Ward on an attempted steal, he was able to escape the inning with no damage.

Gregory Soto came in to close things out with just a one-run lead. Things did get dicey in the 9th, as the Angels got back-to-back singles with one out to put runner on first and third with the 2 hitter coming up. Jo Adell went down swinging for the 4th time for our number 2. Soto induced a fly out from Ward that put left fielder Kyle Schwarber right up against the fence to end the game, secure the save (his second of the year), and earn the Phillies their 7th victory of the road trip.

Phillies’ offense struggled but did just enough

Facing a left-handed starter, the Phillies rolled out a lineup without Johan Rojas, Marsh, and Bryson Stott. To make things more interesting, they also put Kyle Schwarber in left field for the first time this season, after he spent the rest of the season as the DH. Schwarbs came through in the 2nd inning as he ripped a 2-out single back up the middle with the bases loaded to drive in the only 2 runs Philadelphia would score on the day. It was the 10th time in 10 games the Phillies took the first lead of a game. He finished the day with 2 hits.

Philadelphia Phillies’ Kyle Schwarber celebrates after a home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the sixth inning in Game 2 of the baseball NL Championship Series in Philadelphia, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Whit Merrifield added 2 hits of his own and recorded the only extra-base hit the Phillies mustered, but was thrown out at the plate trying to score from second on a hard grounder that got away from second baseman Luis Rengifo. The offense recorded 3 hits in the 2nd inning, but only scattered 4 more the rest of the game. They struck out 18 times as a team – 7 more times than the Angels – and went 2-for-7 with runners in scoring position, leaving 7 runners on.

Despite these struggles, the Phillies continue to win. The pitching is carrying them on days where they struggle to get runs across. There is enough firepower in that lineup to give the stellar pitching staff just enough, as they did today.

What’s next?

The Phillies return home to Citizens Bank Park on Friday after an off day tomorrow. They will welcome the San Francisco Giants to town for a 4-game series over the weekend. Friday’s contest will see Aaron Nola (4-1, 3.20 ERA) take the mound. The Giant have yet to announce their starters for the series. Philly has the most wins in the majors and will look to add to that count against a team hovering around .500.

AP Photo/Matt Slocum