Series Recap: Phillies Sweep Defending Champion Rangers

Philadelphia Phillies’ Bryson Stott follows through after hitting a home run against Washington Nationals pitcher MacKenzie Gore during the seventh inning of a baseball game, Saturday, May 18, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The Phillies hosted the reigning World Series Champion Texas Rangers in day-game action in South Philly to close their series and their eight-game home stand. They capped things off in epic style, pulling the brooms out on the champs and finishing the sweep – leaving home going 7-and-1 during this stretch at home.

Zack Wheeler was strong all afternoon, cruising through the first six innings. He allowed just two earned runs, with the second coming in the seventh frame. Wheeler threw 91 pitches in the game, 17 of which came in inning No. 7. He is now 6-3 with a 2.53 ERA and 76 strikeouts.

Philadelphia’s offense rolled, with solo home runs from J.T. Realmuto and Nick Castellanos to bookend the scoring and a fourth inning that included a two-run triple from Cristian Pache followed by a single from Kyle Schwarber to knock in Pache. In total, the offense scattered 12 hits, walked twice, and got big production from the bottom of the order. The 7-8-9 hitters were 6-for-12 with three runs scored. Pache finished the game going 2-2 with runners in scoring position, as well.

Phillies’ skipper Rob Thomson spoke earlier this season about needing to get the bench players in action and putting them in position to get them going – and those players have responded and done just that. Edmundo Sosa, the primary replacement at shortstop since Trea Turner’s injury, is now slashing .323/.417/.548 in 23 games this season while playing great defensively.

Philadelphia Phillies’ Edmundo Sosa loses his bat as he hits during the first inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Sunday, May 12, 2024, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Feelin’ hot, hot, hot

The Phillies are off to one of the best starts in franchise history. They have a 29-6 record in their last 35 games – a stretch the franchise hasn’t seen since 1892. This was the seventh sweep for Philadelphia already this season – matching their season total from 2023. Seven sweeps by a team prior to June 1 haven’t been done since the 2019 Minnesota Twins.

In May, the Phillies have been particularly hot. So far, they have gone 17-3 in the month. That .850 winning percentage in the month would be the third-best in May by any team in the majors in the last 100 years. With seven games left in the month – all against teams under .500 – they could push past the top two on that list (’39 Yankees [24-4], ’31 Athletics [23-4]).

Oh yeah, and this

They continue to make the home fans happy, as they are now 22-8 at Citizens Bank Park this season. That is good for the best record in the history of the ballpark through the teams’ first 30 games and their best since the 1993 team.

Starting pitching is a problem for a lot of teams right now and Philadelphia has an abundance of it. Their staff has been dominant, the best in baseball and they have six guys with strong results so far in 2024.

Their ability to go deep into games has allowed their bullpen to stay fresh, at times they are looking for work but the starters are doing so well that it’s tough to take them out. Philadelphia’s pen has a league-low 154.1 innings pitched so far this season. For a bullpen as deep as theirs, it gets even stronger when you aren’t needed as often – especially in high-pressure situations thanks to the offense’s hot stretch.

The Opponent discussion

Detractors of the Phillies’ hot start will point to the record of their opposition so far. As it stands, the only teams they have played that have a record above .500 are the Atlanta Braves in the season-opening series and the San Diego Padres who they swept on the road. Philadelphia doesn’t make the schedule, at the end of the year, it will all even out. What matters is they are taking care of business day-in and day out, regardless of what the other team throws at them.

For example, Dylan MacKinnon from 97.5 The Fanatic dropped a gem on ‘X’. So far, the Phillies have faced seven of the top 25 pitchers in ERA this season. The result? A combined 7.02 ERA for those men combined against Philly. That list includes Jon Gray, Chris Sale, Jordan Hicks, Austin Gomber, Jose Berrios, Dylan Cease, and Logan Webb. Even when facing the best a team has to offer, the Phillies were better.

If the Rangers won this series, they would have been above .500 and are the reigning champions. If the Nationals and the Giants did to the Phillies what Philly did to them, they would also be above .500.

What’s next for the Phillies?

Philadelphia hits the road for a six-game road trip. First to Colorado for three, then further west to San Francisco for another series with the Giants. They return home to start in June. Now through the end of June, they will only face two more teams that currently have a winning record.

This roster is strong, and deep, and may even get some reinforcements in two weeks in London. They just need to continue to take care of business.

Photo Credit: (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)