Phillies

At Memorial Day checkpoint, Phillies are 'one of the best teams in baseball,' says Jake Arrieta

At Memorial Day checkpoint, Phillies are 'one of the best teams in baseball,' says Jake Arrieta

MILWAUKEE — Two weeks ago, the Phillies embarked on a 20-game stretch against a handful of the best teams in the National League, a stretch that would offer a read on the club’s legitimacy as a contender as the weather warmed and the division races became more defined.

The Phils are 13 games into that stretch. They have won eight of them to improve from seven games over .500 to a season-high 10 games over .500.

Is this team legit?

Ask the guy who put the club on his back Saturday and led a 7-2 win Saturday over the Milwaukee Brewers (see observations)

“We’re one of the best teams in baseball,” Jake Arrieta said after pitching eight bullpen-saving innings and striking out eight Brewers.

“We’re rolling and we feel good about where we’re at.”

The Phillies began this seven-game road trip with a win at Wrigley Field on Monday night. They lost the next two to the Cubs — one in harrowing, walk-off fashion — only to salvage a series split with a difficult win Thursday. They’ve followed it up with two wins in Milwaukee and have a chance to sweep the series on Sunday.

The Brewers hammered the Phillies in Philadelphia last week, but the Phils came back after that series and swept the Rockies at home. That feat illustrated the team’s resilience. So has this current three-game win streak following two tough losses against the Cubs.

“I think we just showed the rest of baseball that we're one of the best teams and we deserve to be in that category,” Arrieta said. “We showed it in Chicago. We probably could’ve won another one of the games there but to split a series with them at Wrigley and get the first two at this ballpark against one of the best teams in baseball, one of the best offenses in baseball, speaks volumes about the group we have.”

Memorial Day is considered the first checkpoint of the big-league season, the first time you can draw some meaning from the standings. The Phils lead the NL East. They are one of seven teams in the majors at least 10 games over .500.

“It's notable,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “I think what's more notable is this road trip, which we knew was going to be a major challenge. So we go into this last game of this series with a chance to sweep an excellent team and assured we're going to have a winning road trip. I think that is powerful. I think it's meaningful. Equally meaningful as where we are on Memorial Day is how we handled this road trip.”

The bullpen has sucked up a lot of innings recently. Entering Saturday’s game, it had logged 47 1/3 innings over 12 games, the third most in the big leagues over that span. The relievers needed a break and Arrieta gave them one Saturday. He had a live fastball — one of his best of the season — with movement. He kept his pitch count down and got 10 swinging strikes and 24 called strikes. Home plate umpire Mike Estabrook had a generous strike zone and Arrieta occasionally used it to his advantage in expanding the zone. He got a generous strike call on a 3-1 pitch against Lorenzo Cain with a run in and a runner on third with the game on the line in the eighth inning. Arrieta then retired Cain on a ground ball to end the inning one batter before he would probably have been lifted with Christian Yelich due up.

The Brewers were not happy with Estabrook’s work — manager Craig Counsell and outfielder Ryan Braun were both booted — but the Phillies did not complain.

“Jake was absolutely cognizant of getting in the zone and giving us length and it was exactly what our club needed,” Kapler said. “The bullpen needed it desperately and he was the right guy at the right time.”

The Phils hit four homers — they have five in the series — and two of them came in a three-run ninth. That cushion allowed closer Hector Neris a day off.

“We have a fresh, fully loaded bullpen — when I say fresh, I mean relatively speaking — heading into the final game of the series and then we have an off day the following day,” Kapler said. “So, we can be aggressive tomorrow.”

Said Arrieta: “Already winning a series against these guys with a shot to sweep them tomorrow is really good for our ball club.”

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Phillies Talk podcast: Massive early-season Phillies-Braves series on tap

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Phillies Talk podcast: Massive early-season Phillies-Braves series on tap

The Phillies will play 40% of their games against the Braves over the next four days, making this a massive early-season NL East series.

Jim Salisbury and Corey Seidman discuss that and more on the latest Phillies Talk podcast.

• How do Phils and Braves match up in 2020?

• How often can the Phillies' bullpen do what it did in series finale vs. Yankees?

• They're lucky to have Hector Neris.

• Starting pitching has been good so far — particularly Zack Wheeler.

• Phillies quietly Top 6 in on-base percentage and slugging.

• Phillies bound for regression one way or the other.

• Yankees complaints.

• J.T. owes the fans a pizza.

• Will we hear the air horn every game now?

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Phillies fans who angered Aaron Boone clown Yankees manager for complaining to umps

Phillies fans who angered Aaron Boone clown Yankees manager for complaining to umps

Pandemic, shmandemic: Philadelphia sports fans are a different breed.

After the Phillies topped the red-hot Yankees on Thursday night, the prevailing storyline wasn't J.T. Realmuto's continued production, or Zach Eflin's strong outing. 

Everyone was talking about Yankees manager Aaron Boone whining about some Phillies fans making a little noise at the ballpark.

Boone stopped play on Thursday to complain about a group of Phillies fans, who call themselves 'The Phandemic Krew', for blowing airhorns when Yankees players were at the plate.

Yes, seriously:

Hmm. Not exactly that tough New York mindset, eh?

Boone complained after the game about the "timing element" of the fans' distractions, because apparently his highly-trained athletes aren't locked in enough to batter the Phillies' bullpen if a few guys from South Jersey make a little noise. 

Unsurprisingly, Phillies fans weren't going to let Boone's antics go unnoticed.

On Friday morning, two members of The Phandemic Krew jumped on 97.5 The Fanatic to talk with Marc Farzetta about getting under Boone's skin, and they went absolutely in on the Yanks' manager.

Here's Oscar, who hails from Camden County, putting it perfectly:

OSCAR: When I was doing it, we were kinda laughing about it, like we did it when Stanton was batting. And they had the TVs out there for us, they put the TVs out there for us, and I was like, 'Yo, I think Boone's complaining about us.' And someone was like, 'They just tweeted about us, complaining about us.' So right away we were like, 'Yo, Boone!' 

FARZETTA: Was it a point of pride when you realized you're a Philadelpha fan, who's not allowed to be in the stadium, and you were still having an impact and getting in the manager's head?

OSCAR: That's definitely a point of pride. I mean, you're talking about Boone, last year they were 'savages', and now they're crying about airhorns. It's definitely some pride, and listen, there's no stopping us. We're still going to be out here for the rest of the season.

That's perfect. Just perfect.

If you missed the reference: a viral hot-mic clip of Boone arguing with umps heard him using some very interesting language to describe his players last season.

Now he's mad about a few horns? You've gotta keep that same energy, Boone!

To top it all off, Phillies fan Taylor Valdez lobbed this idea to the Phandemic Krew, just a little icing on the cake:

Don't be surprised if those shirts start popping up in the Philadelphia area.

As the fans noted, members of the Phandemic Krew were socially distant, they wore masks, and they had hand sanitizer aplenty. They even put a mask on the Phillie Phanatic in their gigantic Phandemic Krew sign. They were taking the COVID-19 pandemic just as seriously as they take Phillies baseball.

The message is clear: don't mess with Philly fans.

Subscribe and rate the Phillies Talk podcast:
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Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

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