The Philadelphia Phillies have stayed near the top of the National League standings halfway through the season thanks in large part to their strong play at Citizens Bank Park.
They’ll close out their first-half home slate this week with two games against the Baltimore Orioles. Right-handers Zach Eflin and Alex Cobb will face off Tuesday night.
The Phillies enter the series at 45-37 and are 28-16 at home. The team had an off-day Monday after taking three of four against the Washington Nationals Josh Ferguson Jersey , and the Phillies won Sunday in 13 innings with a walk-off homer from catcher Andrew Knapp.
“A win like that, especially against Washington, is huge for our season right now,” Knapp told NBC Sports Philadelphia. “It shows we’re here to stay. A lot of games left and we’ve got to keep playing well, but we’re up there with a lot of those teams.”
The Phillies have won 13 of their last 20 games and are firmly in second place in the National League East less than two weeks before the All-Star break. They’ll try to pad their win total against the Orioles (24-59), who have the worst record in baseball.
Eflin (6-2, 3.02 ERA) will be making his first start of July after a stellar month of June for the Phillies. The 24-year-old went 5-0 with a 1.76 ERA and 0.978 WHIP in five starts last month.
Eflin had one of the most impressive starts of his three-year major league career in his last outing. He threw seven scoreless innings against the New York Yankees, giving up only four hits while striking out six batters.
“Eflin was just outstanding,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler told reporters about Eflin after his last start. “…He certainly wasn’t rattled by anything. When he had base runners on, it’s almost like he got calmer. He did a really good job of controlling the running game and controlling his fastball. His working north-south better than he has before. And in June, he was dominant the whole month against some of baseball’s best teams.”
Eflin has never faced Baltimore in 32 career starts. Cobb (2-9 Clayton Geathers Jersey , 6.75) will also be making his first appearance against the Phillies in his seven-year major league career.
The Orioles are 3-11 in Cobb’s 14 starts in 2018, including a loss to the Seattle Mariners last Wednesday. Cobb allowed five runs on eight hits and three walks over 4 2/3 innings in that start. It was the seventh time this season he’s surrendered at least five earned runs in a game.
“The inconsistency on my end, really never dealt with it before,” Cobb told mlb.com after the game. “But it’s really unacceptable to keep going out there and having a good game, and a game where you don’t give much of an opportunity for your team to win.”
The Phillies are 1-0 against the Orioles this season. They won a game in Baltimore on May 16 and will play another game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on July 12 to make up a rained-out contest.
Wil Myers helped give the San Diego Padres an early lead and closer Brad Hand barely held onto it.
Myers homered, doubled and drove in three runs, and rookie Joey Lucchesi threw five scoreless innings to lead San Diego to a 4-3 victory against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday night.
The Padres had to hang on after Hand got himself into trouble in the ninth and then got out of it to earn his 23rd save, thanks to some help from right fielder Hunter Renfroe.
Hand gave up two quick runs on doubles by Elias Diaz and Austin Meadows, and a triple by Gregory Polanco. The reliever got Jordy Mercer to fly out to Renfroe in shallow right field. Renfroe then caught pinch-hitter Jose Osuna’s foul ball near the seats and made a strong throw to hold Polanco at third. Hand struck out Starling Marte to end it.
”I don’t think he lacks for confidence,” Padres manager Andy Green said of Hand, San Diego’s only All-Star last year. ”He’s got those situations where he’s just got to finish his pitches better than he did tonight. He doesn’t rattle. You’ve got one of the faster runners in the game on third base with nobody out and a one-run game Jabaal Sheard Jersey , and there’s not many pitchers that are getting out of that. He managed to get out of that.”
Said Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle: ”It’s a life of a closer. If you look at the numbers against him all year, he’s tough to hit. He’s been very successful. … I thought some breaking balls got left over the plate.”
Myers, limited to 19 games this season due to injuries, homered to right off Trevor Williams (6-6) with one out in the third, his second. Myers then chased the San Diegan with a two-run double to left to give the Padres a 4-0 lead with two outs in the fifth.
Myers returned June 21 after missing 47 games with a strained muscle in his side.
”He’s getting closer and closer and is looking more like himself,” Green said.
The manager was impressed with Myers using all fields.
”I feel good,” Myers said. ”It’s just one of those things where you constantly work on your approach.”
San Diego won for just the third time in 13 games.
Williams, a 2010 graduate of Rancho Bernardo High, was trying to become the second straight local product to beat his hometown Padres. On Friday night, Joe Musgrove, a 2011 graduate of Grossmont High in suburban El Cajon Margus Hunt Jersey , threw seven scoreless innings in a 6-3 victory.
But Williams gave up four runs and four hits in 4 2/3 innings, with four strikeouts and two walks. He also allowed an RBI grounder by Freddy Galvis in the second that brought in Christian Villanueva, who doubled and advanced on Jose Pirela’s single.
Williams walked Austin Hedges and pinch-hitter Matt Szczur with one out in the fifth. They advanced on Travis Jankowski’s sacrifice bunt ahead of Myers’ big double.
”I kind of lost my fastball command in that fifth inning, and I had to rely on my off-speed pitches,” Williams said. ”I kind of put myself in bad situations. Two walks in a row are tough. You can’t really defend walks. Wil Myers is a good hitter and he guessed right on a heater up, and did well.”
Lucchesi (4-3) won for the first time since April 28. He was making his third start since missing five weeks with a strained right hip. The left-hander allowed one hit while striking out five and walking four.
San Diego’s Matt Strahm yielded a run and two hits in the sixth.
Pirates: RHP Jameson Taillon (5-6, 3.96 ERA) is 1-0 with a 1.26 ERA in two career starts against San Diego.
Padres: RHP Tyson Ross (5-5, 3.32) is scheduled for the Padres, who have won seven of his last nine starts.