Game Recap: Phillies bounce back, beat Giants 6-1

Philadelphia Phillies’ Nick Castellanos heads to first on an RBI single during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

The Philadelphia Phillies (39-18) came into their series finale against the San Francisco Giants (29-28) trying to avoid their first sweep defeat of the 2024 season. They came out with an all-around great effort in the final game, winning 6-1.

The Phillies had already clinched a losing record on this current road trip in their second game against the Giants, a 10-inning game in which they were shut out. Dropping the first two games of this series and losing two of three to the Colorado Rockies meant that the Phils had lost consecutive series for the first time since their first two series of the season. Their three-game skid was the longest of the season. Now, it’s in the past — and so is the Phils’ nine-game losing streak at Oracle Park.

J.T. Realmuto got the day off for the Phillies, elevating Edmundo Sosa to the second spot in the lineup. Brandon Marsh was also not included in the starting lineup against lefty Kyle Harrison. Whit Merrifield took his spot while Cristian Pache played center field. The Giants also gave their starting catcher, Patrick Bailey, a rest day.

Philadelphia Phillies’ Cristopher Sanchez pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals, Saturday, May 18, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Sánchez’s six-inning shutout

Cristopher Sánchez got the start to close the road trip out. Following the lead from Zack Wheeler, who shut San Fran out in six innings of work the last time out, the lanky lefty did the same. He notched seven strikeouts and allowed just four hits and one walk in 96 pitches.

Sánchez forced groundballs on his first three batters but kept himself out there a little longer by botching a throw to first base. In the second inning, he struck out the side by fooling Jorge Soler with a changeup right in the heart of the zone and getting whiffs from Heliot Ramos (also on a changeup) and Tyler Fitzgerald (on a cutter). With the bases loaded in the bottom of the third, Sánchez again turned to his changeup twice to get the final two strikes against Wilmer Flores.

The changeup was really working in this game, generating six whiffs and four called strikes. He worked his way up to 97.4 mph on his sinker in the fifth inning. The average velocities on all of his pitches were above his season averages and he finished his day by retiring eight straight batters.

The Phillies having four starters they can depend on for games like this (even though Sánchez’s expectations aren’t as big as the other three) is a massive luxury. Even if the fifth option may be up for discussion amid Taijuan Walker’s rough season, Philly’s quartet of quality starters is a major reason for its MLB-best record.

Gregory Soto and Seranthony Dominguez each pitched a scoreless inning and Spencer Turnbull allowed a run in the ninth to close out the game.

Schwarber and Castellanos deal damage

The Phillies left seven runners on base in the first four innings, including a squandered chance with the bases loaded. Still, the offense came back to life with 14 base hits, Philly’s second-highest hit total in a game this season.

Kyle Schwarber, who went yard in the series opener, led the game off with an opposite-field home run. After fouling off a fastball and whiffing at a down-and-away slurve, he blasted a fastball 107 mph off the bat to break the scoreless tie. He also drew a walk and notched an RBI single later on in the afternoon.

In his last 10 games coming into today, the Phillies’ DH posted a 1.027 OPS with 12 hits. June Schwarber is almost upon us. Brace yourselves.

The middle/end of the Phillies’ lineup came through in the second inning. Singles from Nick Castellanos, Bryson Stott and Pache added another run to the scoreboard. Third-base coach Dusty Wathan decided to send Castellanos as Pache’s hit ball made it to Heliot Ramos in left field, an aggressive decision that paid off.

Philadelphia Phillies’ Nick Castellanos celebrates with teammates after he a home run scoring Alec Bohm and Bryce Harper during the first inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Sunday, May 12, 2024, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Casty also notched a double in the top of the third inning that would have been a home run in 13 other ballparks. In his next time up, he sailed a flyball to left field that went back, back, back…and just got over the fence for a two-run homer. For the first time this season, Castellanos notched a three-hit, two-XBH game.

This season has been a brutal one for the Phillies’ right fielder, who came into the game with a .572 OPS. A big game like this can jumpstart a stretch of better play for Castellanos, especially with a homestand coming up to keep the momentum going.

Harper is ready to go home

Bryce Harper did not have much fun in this game.

His rough afternoon started right out of the gate. He showed some discomfort after a swing in his first plate appearance and trying to field Sánchez’s errant throw, going back into the clubhouse after the first inning but returning to the field for the second. Later in the game, Harper would be involved in his second-most famous dust-up in San Francisco.

In the fourth inning, Harrison threw a fastball that nearly hit Harper, got barked at by the first baseman and threw another fastball a little more inside, hitting the knob of Harper’s bat. Home-plate umpire D.J. Reyburn immediately got in front of Bryce and he didn’t make an attempt at charging the mound, though he was clearly frustrated. The benches and bullpens emptied and some light shoving ensued among others, including former Phillie/current Giants hitting coach Pat Burrell, but no one was ejected.

The result of that at-bat was a groundout, stranding two runners in scoring position. Harper struck out twice before that and another time afterward but did smack an RBI single to add some insurance for the Phillies in the eighth inning. It’s safe to say that he’s ready to get back home.

Series Over!

The Phillies offense did not show up for the first two games of this series, doing damage against Blake Snell in the first game and no one else. Walker’s poor start on Monday put them behind the eight ball while Wheeler’s stellar start on Tuesday gave them the chance to jump out to a lead at any given time. In neither instance did they rise to the occasion.

Finally, they looked like a deep, dangerous hitting core once again — and without their starting catcher. They also managed to beat a team with a winning record. Take that, snarky online discourse participants!

The Phillies have a break on Thursday before starting another homestand on Friday. Their first of two series is against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Photo Credit: (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)