Phillies

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Phillies

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With Rhys Hoskins and Scott Kingery ebbing, the Phillies' offense is being carried right now by three players: Odubel Herrera, Maikel Franco and Carlos Santana.

Herrera's recent successes have been well-documented. But Franco and Santana are making just as much of a difference right now after a poor 2017 from the third baseman and a slow April from the first baseman. 

Wednesday against the Giants, Franco and Santana had three-hit nights and Herrera walked three times to extend his on-base streak to 38 games.

Franco homered again in the 11-3 win. He's up to .292/.325/.540 on the season with seven homers and 28 RBI. Through this many games last season, Franco's power and run production were similar (five homers, 25 RBI) but he was hitting just .208/.281/.358.

We've been here before with Franco. Is this hot streak any different than the ones that have fooled us in the past? There's at least some reason to believe so. Between Franco's improved plate selection, decreasing groundball rate and ability to hit the ball the other way more often, this stretch looks and feels different.

As for Santana, he has eight extra-base hits in his last eight games. He went 3 for 5 Wednesday with a double and five RBI. Two of his run-scoring hits came with two outs, putting the Phillies up, 1-0, and then turning a three-run lead into a 5-0 lead.

 

It's not much of a surprise to see Santana heat up. He's a notoriously slow starter who has hit just .225 in April and .251 in all months thereafter. 

Over his last eight games, Santana has gone 10 for 34 (.294) with four doubles, three homers, a triple and 12 RBI.

The production from both players is a welcome sign for the Phillies, who got so little out of the five-spot in April.

Other notes
• The Phillies are now 14-2 against teams outside the division and 7-13 against the NL East.

Nick Pivetta delivered the kind of bounce-back start he needed with five scoreless innings and seven strikeouts (see story).

• Not that his admission was necessary, but Gabe Kapler said pregame that Jorge Alfaro and Aaron Altherr have earned their regular roles behind the plate and in right field. Andrew Knapp got the nod Wednesday, but Alfaro has started 22 of the Phillies' 36 games. Knapp had a nice night, walking and scoring in the fifth inning and singling in a run in the sixth.

• Over the last four games, Phillies starting pitchers have a 1.17 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, 9.8 strikeouts per nine innings and a .154 opponents' batting average.

• Another quick, impressive inning from Seranthony Dominguez in his second major-league appearance. He pitched another perfect inning against the Giants with a strikeout. He threw eight pitches, seven strikes, again flashing an upper-90s fastball and slider with notable downward movement.

• Bad news on Pat Neshek: He suffered a right flexor strain (elbow/forearm) while throwing a bullpen session during his shoulder rehab. More here on what the injury means.

• The Phillies activated Ben Lively off the 10-day DL and optioned him to Triple A. It was obvious that Zach Eflin would not be losing his rotation spot after dazzling in his last two starts.

• The Phillies' four-game series with the Giants concludes tomorrow at 1:05 p.m. in a Facebook-only game. Vince Velasquez (2-4, 5.14) will be opposed by left-hander Ty Blach (3-3, 3.60).