Phillies secure series win over Dodgers

Phillies Sanchez
Philadelphia Phillies’ Cristopher Sánchez throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Sunday, June 23, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)

Philadelphia was the scene of another scorcher Wednesday night. Both the weather and the action inside Citizens Bank Park. There was a horse (who bounced back in a big way), men in the stands felt like they were on fire (until the sun went down), but there was a distinct lack of trident.

At the end of the day, Philadelphia held on in a tough-fought game to win 4-3 and secure the series win against Los Angeles. Let’s see how they got there.

Sánchez rebounds

Cristopher Sánchez is without a doubt one of, if not the biggest surprise for the Phillies this season. After a dominant start through the season’s first two months – the lanky lefty had his worst outing of 2024 to start July. Last week in Wrigley, Sánchez went just four innings, allowing seven earned runs – the most he’s allowed in his career – and took his fourth loss of the season. His three walks tied a season high, and the seven hits he surrendered were tied for second-most of his 2024 campaign.

That was last week, this is now. Sánchez was electric tonight, attacking hitters early and often. He threw 18 first-pitch strikes to the 24 batters he faced. Manager Rob Thomson said he was “fantastic” and he’s not wrong. His change-up was great all night, and he mixed and matched well – slowing the pace a bit when needed. Thomson spoke about the left-hander’s performance Postgame:

Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cristopher Sanchez reacts after striking out Miami Marlins’ Vidal Brujan during the eighth inning of a baseball game, Friday, June 28, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

“I kind of expected it because he did have some sickness in that Chicago series, and he’s coming off the complete game. But I thought he was fantastic. Throwing strikes, first-pitch strikes, change-up was really really good. He calmed the game down when it got hot. He did a really good job.”

Rob Thomson Postgame, July 10, 2024

It was huge for Sánchez to bounce-back from that first start in July before a well-earned break for the All-Star game. The Phillie with the newly-minted contract now has a 7-4 record, with a 2.96 ERA. He has just a 1.50 ERA at home this year – third best by a Phillies pitcher in their first 10 home starts of a season since 1912 (courtesy of the Phillies research department).

Phillies research department also noted that he and Wheeler become just the second pair of Phillies teammates to both post sub-1.80 ERAs in their first 10 starts of the season. First since Grover Cleveland Alexander and Eppa Rixey who did so in 1915 and 1916.

If another injury is announced, he might just be the eighth Phillies All-Star.

Phillies Notes

Possibbly the biggest moment of the game came in the seventh inning. Orion Kerkering came on in relief of Sánchez to face the bottom of the Dodgers order. After two hits and a strikeout, Thomson called for Matt Strahm to emerge from the bullpen to face Shohei Ohtani with two guys on. Four pitches later, he showed the world on the national broadcast why he earned his spot in The Midsummer Classic.

It took just one more pitch to get the final out of the inning. With Freeman coming up to start the eighth and Strahm at just five pitchers, I asked the Phillies manager if there was any thought to leaving his All-Star reliever in for one more inning:

“Not really, ’cause there’s kind of an adrenaline dump when you get out of that sort of situation so I just felt like it was better to go to somebody else. Plus, Alvarado and Hoffman had both had four days off, so they needed to pitch tonight.”

Rob Thomson post-game, July 10, 2024

Thomson even said he was saving Strahm for Ohtani, noting not just the left-on-left advantage, but Strahm’s big slider and location of his fastball as reasons why he felt it was a great match-up.

Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Matt Strahm throws during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

I asked Thomson during his post-game availability about the Phillies approach tonight. They swung at the first or second pitch vs. Dodgers starter Gavin Stone in 15 of 21 plate appearances. Thomson said it is part of the team’s general aggressiveness. “He throws strikes and he’s going to come right at you and he’s got good stuff. I think the guys, if they see a pitch that they like to hit then they’re going to go get it.

Some major milestones were also reached during tonight’s game. Matt Strahm’s appearance marked the 300th of his major league career. Kyle Schwarber’s lead-off home run marked his 600th RBI, and his 39th career lead-off long ball.

In Conclusion

Philly is the first club to reach 60 wins this season, and are the second quickest to reach that milestone in franchise history behind only the 1976 team who recorded their 60th win in game 88.

They may have already wrapped up the series, but they still have one more against the Dodgers before welcoming the Athletics to town for a weekend series. Tomorrow night will see Aaron Nola (10-4, 3.48 ERA) face off against Dodger rookie Landon Knack (1-2, 2.86 ERA).

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Derik Hamilton