A sweep at the hands of the last-place Atlanta Braves would have sent the Phillies limping to the airport for a flight to Detroit.
The Phillies got some much-needed offense and avoided that sweep, pounding the Braves, 5-0, on Sunday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.
After slogging through Friday and Saturday games, the Phillies’ offense exploded for 13 hits, tying a season-high. They took advantage of Casey Kelly, who made his first start of the year, and his command issues.
Jerad Eickhoff, on the other hand, was in command. He threw seven shutout innings to improve his record to 2-6 while dropping his ERA to 3.86.
The Phillies’ five runs were their most since tallying seven in an extra-inning win on May 12 in Atlanta. They’ve scored five or more runs just nine times all season.
Starting pitching report
Eickhoff had allowed at least three runs in each of his last five starts. You couldn’t tell Sunday.
The righty was in control all game. He needed just 85 pitches to complete his seven shutout innings. He struck out three and walked one while scattering five hits, which tied a season-low.
Eickhoff escaped trouble in the top of the sixth to keep the Phillies up 3-0. With Mallex Smith (helped by a balk) on third base and Chase d’Arnaud at first, Freddie Freeman roped a two-out line drive that went directly to the glove of Tommy Joseph at first base.
The Braves had runners on the corners with two down again in the seventh, but Eickhoff induced an inning-ending groundout to Joseph.
Hector Neris allowed one hit in a shutdown eighth inning.
Jeanmar Gomez pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning in a non-save situation.
At the plate
Phillies bats were silent in Saturday’s 2-0 loss (see story). They came out screaming on Sunday.
After Eickhoff threw a 1-2-3 first inning, Odubel Herrera broke an 0-for-11 skid with a screaming double to left-center. A Cesar Hernandez hard-hit flyout to center followed, advancing Herrera to third. Herrera was stranded there following a Maikel Franco soft flyout and a Joseph screamer to right field.
But the Phillies broke through in the second inning. Cameron Rupp, who tallied a career-high three hits, smacked a 1-0 fastball the other way for a line drive homer just over the right field wall. Two batters later, Tyler Goeddel stayed hot, lining a triple to the left-centerfield gap. He came around on a Peter Bourjos single.
The Phillies scored again in the fourth after Freddy Galvis roped a leadoff triple into the corner in right field. He’d later score on a RBI groundout by Eickhoff.
The Phillies collected seven hits off Kelly, ending his day after five innings.
Franco, who has been struggling of late, led off the fifth inning with a bloop single to right. He later added a bloop to center that scored two and extended the lead to 5-0. The way things have been going, he’ll take it.
In the field
Joseph was in the right place at the right time on Freeman’s line drive to end the Braves half of the sixth inning.
Howard gets a day
Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said after Saturday’s game he’d likely start Tommy Joseph at first base despite a righty starting for Atlanta. He thought Ryan Howard could use a day to clear his head. And he followed through with it when writing the lineup card Sunday morning. Joseph started at first and batted fourth. He went 0 for 4 with a strikeout.
Howard is batting .091 in the month of May. He’s likely to DH during the three-game series in Detroit this week.
From there? Time will tell.
We’re going to learn a thing or two about these Phillies over the next week or so. Monday the Phillies open a three-game set in Detroit (Vince Velasquez, 5-1, 2.42 ERA vs. Mike Pelfrey, 0-4, 5.49) before traveling to Chicago to face the Cubs.
When they arrive home on Memorial Day, the first-place Nationals will welcome them.