KANSAS CITY — Zach Eflin continued his recent run of excellence in leading the Phillies to a 7-0 win over the Kansas City Royals on Saturday night.
The 25-year-old right-hander pitched the second shutout of his career and his second complete game in three starts.
Eflin has allowed just two runs in 25 innings over his last three starts. He is now 5-3 with a 2.47 ERA. Only five pitchers in the National League entered Saturday with a better ERA.
The Phillies are 3-2 on the roadtrip with one game to play. They lead the NL East at 22-16.
• Well, for starters there was Eflin.
• Kansas City starter Brad Keller walked four batters in five-plus innings. The Phillies turned three of them into runs.
• Rhys Hoskins came back from an 0-2 count with two outs in the third inning and stroked a two-run single to give the Phils a 2-0 lead. Hoskins is moving up the RBI leaderboard. He has 34. The only National Leaguers with more entering Saturday were Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich.
• Odubel Herrera swung it well with a double, a triple and two runs scored.
He continues to show outstanding economy of pitches. He threw 89 pitches through eight innings and needed 110 to complete his shutout.
He held the Royals to four hits, three of which were singles, did not walk a batter and struck out seven. He hit two batters. The only extra-base hit that Eflin allowed was a double by Alex Gordon with two outs in the ninth.
Eflin featured a four-seam fastball that reached 96 mph and he complemented that pitch with a slider and two-seam fastball. Andrew Knapp was behind the plate for the third straight time with Eflin. All three games have been outstanding performances. Knapp could end up catching Eflin again in Thursday’s afternoon game against Milwaukee in Philadelphia. The pairing is coincidental and manager Gabe Kapler has been adamant that he’s against the idea of pitchers having a personal catcher.
Vince Velasquez went on the IL. Reliever Austin Davis was recalled. Lefty Cole Irvin will be activated in time to pitch Sunday, at which time the Phillies will have to make another roster move. Irvin will be making his big-league debut (see story).
Also, Aaron Altherr, who was designated for assignment last weekend, was claimed on waivers by the San Francisco Giants.
The Phillies will play the final game of the series and the road trip Sunday afternoon. Irvin will face Kansas City right-hander Jacob Junis (3-3, 5.52).
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