Phillies (68-83) vs. White Sox (72-79)
7:05 p.m. on CSN
The Phillies will go for a two-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox tonight in their final interleague game off the season. The Phils fended off a ninth-inning rally from Chicago last night to take Game 1, 7-6.
Runs will be harder to come by tonight, as Chicago sends out its ace, but it certainly helps some of the Phillies' top bats have been hot at the plate recently.
Let's take a look.
1. Young bats staying hot
Last night, the Phillies manufactured seven runs off 12 hits. All seven runs and seven of the 12 hits were produced by the two through four spots in the lineup: Roman Quinn, Odubel Herrera and Tommy Joseph. Quinn was 2 for 4 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Quinn has reached based safely in seven of his nine starts.
Herrera has continued to finish the season the same way he started. Last night, he was 3 for 4 at the dish, driving in three runs and hitting his 15th long ball of the season.
After hitting a wall out of the All-Star break, where his on-base percentage dipped from .378 to .353, Herrera has heated up in the final stretch of the season. In September, he has a batting line of .339/.403/.571 with eight extra base hits.
Herrera's hot hitting has carried over to the player hitting behind him recently in Joseph, who was 2 for 3 with an RBI double last night. The rookie first baseman has struggled getting on base this season (.310 on base percentage) and is coming off a down month of August.
But Joseph has rebounded for his strongest month at the plate since July, hitting .333/.408/.619 in September.
These three young payers continuing to carry out their hot streaks through game No. 162 would help provide a promising end to a rebuilding season for the Phillies.
2. Eickhoff looking to rebound
Jerad Eickhoff turned in one of the odder stat lines you'll see from a pitcher in his most recent outing.
The 26-year-old right hander allowed five hits and walked none over six-plus innings of work against the Pirates, but four of those hits wound up over the outfield wall at Citizens Bank Park. Pittsburgh hit four solo home runs off Eickhoff, chasing him for six runs before the Pirates unloaded for nine more off the Phillies' bullpen in the final two innings of a 15-2 rout.
Before Eickhoff tossed one of his worst starts of the season, the second-year starter had actually strung together four strong starts in a row, going 2-1 with a 2.63 ERA over 24 innings.
One of those starts came against the White Sox in Chicago on Aug. 24. In six innings, Eickhoff surrendered two runs on four hits, striking out two and walking none in the Phillies' 5-3 win.
The Phillies are going to need that kind of performance from Eickhoff tonight, because the pitcher they're matched up against is one of the best the game has to offer.
3. First look at Chris Sale
Another year, another Cy Young caliber performance from Chris Sale.
Sale, 27, is 16-8 with a 3.03 ERA across 29 starts this season and will take the hill tonight looking to tie his career high in wins. His six complete games lead all of Major League Baseball and he's currently riding a streak of six consecutive starts where he's gone at least eight innings, boasting a 2.16 ERA over that span.
The left-handed power arm features four pitches, a four-seam and two seam fastball, changeup and slider. Sale is most known for his nasty slider, which he throws 25 percent of the time and holds hitters to a .173 average. His strikeout percentage has dipped from his previous two seasons, but Sale has struck out over 200 batters (215) for the fourth consecutive year.
Sale has been overpowering MLB hitters since he entered the big leagues as a reliever in 2010, but tonight will be the first look most Phillies will get at him.
The only players in a Phillies uniform to face Sale are Jimmy Paredas (0 for 6), Peter Bourjos (2 for 6) and A.J. Ellis (1 for 3).
4. Changes coming in the 9th inning?
Last night, Jeanmar Gomez came on to pitch the ninth inning with the Phillies holding a comfortable 7-3 lead. While it wasn't it save situation when Gomez initially took the mound, it quickly turned into one. In two-thirds of an inning, Gomez allowed three runs on three hits and a walk.
With the tying run on second and the go-ahead run at the plate, Gomez was relieved of his duties in favor of Michael Mariot, who retired the first batter to secure the win.
Following a strong first half, which saw him post a 2.59 ERA and lock down 24 of 26 save opportunities, Gomez's execution has dropped off since the break. In 25-plus innings of work, he has an ERA of 6.39 and three blown saves.
While Gomez has trended downward, Hector Neris has gone on the upswing. In over 29 innings since the break, Neris has posted a 1.82 ERA with a .91 WHIP.
Unless he's dealt in the offseason, Gomez figures to be a part of the Phillies' backend of the bullpen in 2017, but it would hard to see him simply being handed the closer job entering spring training, especially with the development of Neris.
5. This and that
• Eickhoff has split his 30 starts evenly between home and the road this season, but has fared better at home (95 innings, 3.40 ERA, 1.175 WHIP) than he has away from Citizens Bank Ballpark (85 innings, 4.13 ERA, 1.224 WHIP).
• Herrera has posted a .388 on-base percentage on 43 at-bats at the No. 3 position in the Phillies' lineup.
• Gomez's 37 saves are the ninth most single season total in franchise history. Jose Mesa holds the club record with 45 saves, set in 2002.