Phillies' bats explode in Tampa for 5th straight win

Phillies' bats explode in Tampa for 5th straight win


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Phillies’ winning streak stands at five and they are poised for a second straight series sweep.

The Phils, on the strength of a six-run second inning, rolled over the Tampa Bay Rays, 9-4, at Tropicana Field on Saturday night.

Jake Arrieta was the beneficiary of all that run support and earned his first win with the Phillies. He pitched 6 2/3 innings and gave up seven hits and three runs in his second start with his new club. One of the runs was unearned. The right-hander walked two, struck out one and finished with 88 pitches. Arrieta was particularly economical in the first two innings, throwing just eight pitches in each.

Phillies starting pitchers have recorded a stingy 2.69 ERA over the last 10 games.

Meanwhile, Tampa Bay ace Chris Archer was anything but economical early in the game. He needed 55 pitches to get through the first two innings. Archer was ambushed for six runs in the inning and eight in all during four innings of work. He is 0-2 with a 7.84 ERA after four starts this season.

J.P. Crawford was particularly tough on Archer. Hitting in the No. 9 spot, Crawford stroked an RBI double in the second inning and a leadoff homer in the fourth against Archer. The double came on a 2-2 slider; the homer on a 1-2 slider. Archer, obviously, thought he could put away Crawford with that pitch but the rookie shortstop thwarted that idea.

The Phils sent 10 men to the plate in the second inning. Crawford, Nick Williams and Scott Kingery all had doubles in the inning. Crawford’s and Kingery’s drove in runs. Cesar Hernandez, Carlos Santana and Odubel Herrera all drove in runs with singles in the inning. Kingery added a second RBI double in the fifth inning.

The Phillies are 8-5. They have won seven of their last eight games against Miami, Cincinnati and Tampa Bay, three of the worst teams in baseball. Those three clubs entered play Saturday with a combined eight wins and rank in the bottom six in the majors in OPS.

But the Phillies are doing what you're supposed to do to bad teams — beat them.

Some notes:

• Right-handed reliever Victor Arano struck out three of the four batters he faced. He has retired all 16 batters he has faced this season, half on strikeouts.

• Catcher Andrew Knapp, out of the lineup since Tuesday because of a stomach bug, is expected to start Sunday’s series finale. Ben Lively will start for the Phillies.

• Reliever Tommy Hunter, on the disabled list with a hamstring strain, pitched an inning in an extended spring training game Saturday morning in Clearwater. He believes he is ready to go. The team is expected to err on the side of caution and give him one more tune-up before activating him next week.

• Jerad Eickhoff, on the DL with a lat strain, threw lightly off a bullpen mound. He said he feels much better. He needs a full build-up and won’t ready until sometime in May.

Former Phillies 1st-rounder Jesse Biddle earns win in MLB debut

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Former Phillies 1st-rounder Jesse Biddle earns win in MLB debut

Former Phillies first-round pick Jesse Biddle had a memorable major-league debut Saturday night for a division rival. 

Biddle, the 27th overall pick by the Phillies in 2010 out of Germantown Friends High School, pitched a scoreless ninth inning of relief for the Braves, earning the victory after Atlanta came back in the bottom half against Mets closer Jeurys Familia.

Minutes earlier, Biddle had to bear down with two outs and a man on third base and his team trailing by a run. Yoenis Cespedes launched a moonshot homer to left field that was originally ruled a home run before being overturned to a foul ball. On the next pitch, Biddle got Cespedes to tap out to short to end the inning.  

Good for the now 26-year-old Biddle, who battled injuries during a rough minor-league career with the Phils. After undergoing Tommy John surgery in October 2015, Biddle was traded to the Pirates and then claimed by the Braves in the spring of 2017.

The Phillies have no major-leaguers left from that 2010 draft class, which also produced Cameron Rupp, David Buchanan and Mario Hollands. 

Phillies set to activate Tommy Hunter after sending Hoby Milner to Triple A

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Phillies set to activate Tommy Hunter after sending Hoby Milner to Triple A

The Phillies sent left-handed reliever Hoby Milner to Triple A after Saturday’s 6-2 win over the Pirates. Though the team said it would not announce a corresponding roster move until Sunday, the transaction clears a spot for reliever Tommy Hunter to be activated.

Hunter, 31, signed a two-year, $18-million contract with the Phillies in December, but was forced to begin the season on the disabled list after suffering a hamstring strain late in spring training. The right-hander has pitched twice at Double A Reading in recent days in preparation for his return.

Milner’s departure leaves the Phillies with just one lefty — Adam Morgan — in their bullpen. However, as manager Gabe Kapler mentioned several days ago, Hunter’s cutter can be effective against lefty hitters.

Hunter pitched in 61 games for Tampa Bay last season and held lefty hitters to a .170 (15 for 88) batting average and a .501 OPS. Righties hit .224 (28 for 125) with a .649 OPS.

Milner pitched 4 2/3 innings over 10 appearances. He allowed six hits and four runs. He walked three, hit a batter and struck out four.