Game Recap: Phillies take down Cardinals, 4-2.

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)

The Philadelphia Phillies (40-18) returned from a road trip to host the St. Louis Cardinals (27-28) for a weekend series. In the first game of the three-game matchup, the Phillies won 4-2.

Back at Citizens Bank Park after a pair of series in Denver and San Francisco, the Phillies were looking to become the first team to reach 40 wins this season. A sellout crowd of 44,742 — the largest home crowd to date this season — came out to watch the Fightins. It wasn’t their best show but it was a winning one, starting off a new homestand on the right foot.

The Cardinals scratched Brendan Donovan from their initial lineup due to neck stiffness, weakening a lineup that is already without Willson Contreras (forearm) and Lars Nootbaar (oblique). Still, the Redbirds came into this series red hot, winning eight of their last 10 games. The Phillies sent their A-Team lineup out there in their City Connect threads looking to shake off two straight series losses.

Hittin’ hard or hardly hitting?

The Phillies opened the series against Miles Mikolas, St. Louis’ worst starter this season. Philly has seen a lot of lefty pitching recently and now will see a lot of righties, giving their collection of LHHs to get going before they take center stage in London next weekend. Although Mikolas had started to pick it up in his latest starts, this was a great chance for the Phils to light up the scoreboard. They got in a few big blows but didn’t come all that close to a knockout.

Alec Bohm became the first base runner of the game by lining a 109.2-mph single off Nolan Arenado’s glove. A double from Nick Castellanos put them into scoring position with Brandon Marsh up to bat. Marsh grounded out but his fellow Daycare member came home to score.

Edmundo Sosa didn’t let Castellanos get stranded at third, though, as he blasted a 439-foot home run to straightaway center field against his former team. It was the longest home run of Sosa’s career and the first time since that a Phillie hit a home run to Ashburn Alley since Darick Hall on July 22, 2022.

Bryce Harper smacked a ball 111.7 mph into right field, recording a double as the Phillies kept hitting Mikolas’ stuff hard. Through three innings, the Phils had hit put at least seven balls in play with exit velocities in the high 90s. They were seeing his pitches very well, though they didn’t light him up on the scoreboard after that second-inning rally.

Harper lined a single to center field that was 102.6 mph off the bat but a double-play courtesy of a Bohm ground ball (and a great flip from the glove to second base by Nolan Gorman) took Mikolas off the hook. The veteran hurler started getting ground balls out of the Phillies’ bats in innings four, five and six. He managed a quality start and left his team in a deficit of only one run.

Marsh hit a double off of STL reliever Kyle Leahy with one out in the bottom of the seventh and Johan Rojas singled him home, making it at least one hit for each of the Phillies hitters in the bottom four lineup spots.

Phillies Nola
Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Nola delivers during the second inning of a baseball game against San Francisco Giants, Friday, May 3, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

A nice Nola start with a few blips

Aaron Nola made the start for the Phillies, holding the fort down with the exception of a few deep drives. It was his fourth straight quality start.

Nola made it through the first inning on seven pitches and coaxed three groundouts and two strikeouts from the Cardinals through the first two. Aside from a lineout, he was really in control. He then allowed Brandon Crawford to go deep for the first time this season, hearing some boos from the crowd after nipping the vibes following Sosa’s blast.

But aside from that, Nola kept the Cardinals in check. He allowed just one single and one walk after that — Crawford, of course, tallied the hit — after losing the shutout. His curveball had the Cards flailing all game long and the quality of their contact was mostly poor.

By the seventh inning, Nola’s pitch count stood at 87. St. Louis had started sending more hard-hits balls into play but with no hits to show for it. Arenado changed that with a fly ball that poked the net on the left-field foul pole. He got a strikeout and then came out of the game.

Nola got some help from his defense, though. Bryson Stott went airborne to snag a line drive in the top of the fifth inning that had an 81 percent chance of falling for a hit. He also made a nice running play earlier in the game. Nick Castellanos made a nice running play of his own to record Nola’s third out of the game.

The final line of the game for No. 27: 96 pitches (65 strikeouts), six strikeouts, two runs, three hits, two walks. His ERA on the season now stands at 3.03.

Phillies Bullpen bonanza

The Phillies turned to their best closers after getting some rest, tapping into their strategy of using their relievers for the highest leverage rather than just the latest innings. The offense wasn’t able to pull away, so they had to turn to their best bullpen arms to stay ahead.

Matt Strahm came in for Nola, getting two quick outs. Jose Alvarado pitched the eighth inning despite the eighth and ninth hitters of the Cardinals’ lineup coming up. He did allow hard contact but Marsh was in position to catch a lineout and Stott, again, came up with a brilliant defensive play, diving on a sharp grounder and making the throw to first.

Jeff Hoffman was called on for the ninth to face the heart of St. Louis’ order. He struck out Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Gorman and got a flyout to right field to record the save.

The Phillies will face the Cardinals again on Saturday at 7:15 P.M. EDT and Sunday at 7:10 P.M. EDT..

Photo Credit: (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)