The Phillies badly needed a lopsided win and they got one Friday night, starting a nine-game road trip with a 12-2 win over the Braves that was decided after about 20 minutes.
Seven of the Phillies’ previous eight were one-run games, and they preceded this series with four straight victories over the Brewers by a combined five runs. Each of those games was tense. This one was not.
A huge first inning fueled the series-opening victory. The Phillies scored six times before Zach Eflin took the mound and five of the runs came with two outs. The biggest blow was Odubel Herrera’s three-run homer but the most important at-bat in the first inning belonged to Jean Segura.
In Segura’s first AB back from the injured list, he hit a two-run single down the first-base line to give the Phillies an early three-run lead and momentum. An out in that spot results in a one-run lead and a totally different game.
Segura was the Phillies’ hottest hitter when he went down on April 21 with a quad strain and picked up where he left off in Atlanta with four singles, three to the opposite field. He’s hitting .369 in 69 plate appearances.
"I was nervous in my first at-bat but I’m happy to be back here with the boys," Segura said.
Eflin, who is exactly the type of pitcher you want on the mound with a big lead, did his job with 6⅔ quality innings. Through seven starts, he’s 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA, a 1.13 WHIP, 42 strikeouts and three walks.
Herrera’s first-inning homer did not look like one off the bat but the low line drive continued to carry just over the wall in center. It was his first home run since April 8, 2019. Herrera homered, singled and walked in his first three plate appearances and became the first Phillies centerfielder this season to have a multi-hit game.
J.T. Realmuto had three hits, including a two-run homer. Alec Bohm drove in the Phillies’ first run and had a pair of RBI singles.
The Phils had six players with multiple hits and all eight starting position players reached base multiple times.
Bryce Harper also made his return after missing four in a row and seven of the last eight with a wrist injury. He went 2 for 5 with a double, a walk and two strikeouts.
The Phillies have won five straight games and remain in first place in the NL East at 18-15. There’s been parity across the National League so far this season with nine of 15 teams entering the weekend within two games of .500.
“I was fired up,” Segura said. “I went to the line like 40 minutes before the game started. I was hungry to get back and play the game. To help the team win, it’s awesome. Those guys just swept the Brewers and played really good baseball. I was on the IL, Harp was out, but those guys were on it, and Milwaukee was playing really good baseball. Just keep it going."
Friday’s game in Atlanta was played in front of 38,952 fans, the largest crowd at any major-league game since the 2019 World Series.
By the end of the weekend, the Phillies will have completed half of their season series with the Braves. They’re 5-2 so far. Vince Velasquez (1-0, 4.91) makes the start Saturday night against Ian Anderson (2-1, 3.27).