Series preview: Phillies Return From London for Boston Tea Party

Phillies Harper
Philadelphia Phillies’ Bryce Harper (3) celebrates as he rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the New York Mets during the fourth inning of a London Series baseball game in London, Saturday, June 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

After splitting their two-game series series in London against the New York Mets, the Philadelphia Phillies return stateside on Tuesday as their tea party continues in Boston. Depending on who you ask on the team, more tea may be celebrated based on how they did in London. Others might be so sick of the stuff that Boston Harbor might have another Tea Party on their hands.

Ranger Suarez? Performance-regardless, he’ll take a coffee, thank you very much.

Shipping Cross to Boston

Both the Phillies and Red Sox will enter the three-game set on an off-day. Both teams will be shipping into Boston from the road, though the Phillies have a bit more of a journey to make from London rather than the Red Sox’ returning home from the south side of Chicago.

The Phillies split their two-game international set against the New York Mets. A six-run fourth inning led the Phillies over the Mets 7-2 in game one in London before dropping game two 6-5 behind a blown save from Jose Alvarado, his second of the year.

Bryce Harper went 4-for-7 with a solo home run and two walks on the series. The Phillies added three other long balls onto the series courtesy of Nick Castellanos, Whit Merrifield, and David Dahl. Dahl, who was recently called up to replace the injured Brandon Marsh, gave the Phillies a 4-3 lead in the seventh inning on Sunday with his pinch-hit home run. A three-run ninth inning from Alvarado, however, would nullify that lead.

The Phillies (45-20) own a 9.0 game lead over the Atlanta Braves (35-28) for the National League East. They also own the best winning percentage in baseball at .692, putting them on pace for 112 wins. The Red Sox (33-33), meanwhile, stand in third place in the American League East.

Phillies
Philadelphia Phillies’ Bryce Harper, center, celebrates with teammates after defeating the New York Mets in a London Series baseball game in London, Saturday, June 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Boston split its most recent series with Chicago 2-2, taking game one 14-2 before dropping games two and three by respective scores of 7-2 and 6-1. Sunday’s game four found the Red Sox down 4-3 going into the top of the ninth. David Hamilton reached base on a lead-off double, stealing third base to get into position for a sacrifice fly from Reese McGuire to tie the ballgame and force extra innings. Boston managed to plate two in the top of the tenth inning while Kenley Jansen pitched two shutout innings in the ninth and tenth to secure the victory for Boston 6-4.

The Matchups

Zack Wheeler is set to throw the first pitch at Fenway Park for the Phillies on Tuesday evening. He most recently pitched on June 3rd, throwing seven innings of one-run baseball to earn the win against the Milwaukee Brewers.

At the time of writing, the Phillies have yet to announce their starters for Wednesday and Thursday. However, it seems pretty clear the Phillies will stick with the status quo and pitch Cristopher Sanchez and Aaron Nola. Sanchez has recently owned that spot in the rotation between the Phillies’s two aces, so he will likely throw on Wednesday with Nola getting Thursday’s series finale. The pair own ERA’s of 2.71 and 2.77, respectively.

Assuming the Phillies maintain their current rotation with no changes, Wheeler, Sanchez, and Nola will all be throwing on more than a week’s worth of rest. There may be a little rust in those arms, but in a season that has found the Phillies’ starting pitching staff throwing more innings than in recent years, a few days of rest may be just what the doctor ordered.

Phillies Aaron Nola
Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Nola leaves the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the fifth inning in Game 6 of the baseball NL Championship Series in Philadelphia Monday, Oct. 23, 2023. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The Red Sox, meanwhile, have Kutter Crawford, Nick Pivetta, and Tanner Houck lined up for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, respectively. Crawford (3.51 ERA) most recently took a loss against the Braves, allowing four runs on five hits across six innings of work. Former Phil Nick Pivetta (3.40 ERA) came back the next day to blank the Braves across seven innings, tallying nine strikeout. This will be Pivetta’s second start against his former team on his career and his first since 2021. Tanner Houch (1.91 ERA) will then close out the series for the Red Sox after having most recently allowed two runs across seven innings of nine-strikeout baseball against the White Sox.

With the Sight-Seeing Over, It’s Time for the Phillies to Jump Back into the Grind

Due to all of the international travel, the Phillies have had three off days in the past five days. It’s now time for the team to get back into the swing of things, however, as they enter a stretch where they play 31 games across 33 days from now to the All-Star Break.

Banged up already as they remain down Trea Turner, Brandon Marsh, and Kody Clemens, the Phillies will need to do their best to keep their roster healthy and producing during the stretch. Especially as the Phillies face several strong teams such as the Orioles, Padres, Diamondbacks, Braves, and Dodgers. How they do from now to the All-Star Break very well might determine the fate of the National League East if they can continue their winning ways throughout.

AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth