Phillies close in on 1st place in NL East with dominant sweep of Giants

Phillies close in on 1st place in NL East with dominant sweep of Giants


The Phillies finished up a terrific four-day stretch of all-around baseball with a 6-3 win over the San Francisco Giants on Thursday afternoon.

With the win, the Phils posted an impressive four-game sweep of a Giants team that had won its previous five series, including a weekend sweep of Atlanta. The Giants outscored the Braves, 24-9, in that series.

Less than two months into the season, the Phils have four sweeps, including two of four games. They had not swept the Giants in a four-game series since May 13-16, 1982.

Pitching and power dominated the sweep for the Phillies. They hit nine home runs in the four games. Carlos Santana had three of them, including a game-changing three-run shot Thursday afternoon that gave the Phillies a 4-3 lead.

Starting pitcher Vince Velasquez delivered a quality start. He went six innings and gave up three runs, all on a pair of home runs in the first two innings as he fell behind, 3-0. Velasquez was able to survive the Giants’ early outburst and become dominant. He struck out 12, including three in the second inning (after two-run homer by Alen Hanson) and three in the fourth (see story).

Velasquez departed with a two-run lead that bullpen protected nicely. Power-armed rookie Seranthony Dominguez registered his third scoreless inning since arriving from Triple A on Monday. Luis Garcia and Hector Neris closed it out.

Phillies starting pitching was strong in the entire series. It allowed just four runs in 24 2/3 innings. It walked four and struck out 40.

At 22-15, the Phillies are just an Atlanta loss on Thursday night away from holding down sole possession of first place in the NL East. The Phils are 15-2 against teams from outside the NL East. They are 7-13 in the division with three games coming up against the division-rival New York Mets starting on Friday night.

In addition to hitting the go-ahead homer in the fourth, Santana had a good game defensively. He made a diving stab of a ground ball by Kelby Tomlinson with two outs in the top of the seventh. Santana got the out at first but left the field with a slight limp. Afterward, he said he banged his left knee but was fine.

• Odubel Herrera had three hits and drove in two runs. He has reached base in 39 straight games and leads the NL in batting average at .353.

• The Phillies sent reliever Zac Curtis to Triple A and recalled right-hander Jake Thompson. The departure of Curtis left the Phillies without a left-handed pitcher on the active roster. Lefty reliever Adam Morgan is on the disabled list with a back strain.

• The Phillies open a three-game series with the Mets on Friday night. Jake Arrieta (3-1, 3.15) starts the opener against Mets lefty Steven Matz (1-3, 4.23). Zach Eflin (1-0, 0.71) opposes Noah Syndergaard (2-1, 3.09) on Saturday night. Aaron Nola (5-1, 2.05) and Jacob deGrom (3-0, 1.87) are the pitchers in the final game of the series on Sunday.

Phillies coach Dusty Wathan to interview for Rangers manager

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Phillies coach Dusty Wathan to interview for Rangers manager

The Texas Rangers will interview Phillies third base coach Dusty Wathan for their manager opening later this week, according to a baseball source.

Wathan, 45, was a finalist for the Phillies' job that went to Gabe Kapler a year ago.

Wathan is a former catcher who played professionally for 14 seasons and appeared in the majors with Kansas City in 2002. He managed 10 seasons in the Phillies' minor-league system and was Eastern League manager of the year at Double A Reading in 2015 and 2016 before moving up to Triple A Lehigh Valley in 2017 and joining the big-league staff under Kapler in 2018. He managed many of the players that have recently arrived in the majors with the Phillies.

The Rangers fired manager Jeff Banister in late September. According to reports, they have already interviewed several candidates including former Yankees manager Joe Girardi. Cubs bench Brandon Hyde, Astros bench coach Joe Espada and Rangers assistant GM Jayce Tingler. The Rangers are also expected to interview Don Wakamatsu, who finished 2018 as interim skipper, and Sandy Alomar Jr., a member of the Indians' coaching staff. 

We profiled Wathan here last year.

More on the Phillies

10 Years Ago Today: Charlie Manuel felt professional euphoria, personal grief

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10 Years Ago Today: Charlie Manuel felt professional euphoria, personal grief

Ten years ago this month, the Phillies won their second World Series title in franchise history. Over the next few weeks, Jim Salisbury will look back at team’s run through the NLCS and World Series.

As the final out settled into Carlos Ruiz's mitt and the Phillies clinched the NLCS with a 5-1 win over the Dodgers in Game 5, I looked down at the dugout from the press box. Players streamed out to congratulate each other on the field. Manager Charlie Manuel stayed behind and accepted handshakes and hugs from his staff.

October 2008 was the high point of Manuel’s career, but it came amidst personal grief. Five days before the Phillies won the NLCS in Dodger Stadium, Manuel’s mother, June, died at the age of 87 back in the family’s hometown of Buena Vista, Virginia.

Manuel spoke to his mother daily before her passing and she wanted him to stay with his team. He celebrated the Phillies’ punching their ticket to the World Series and the next day flew to Virginia for his mother’s funeral.

Phillies players adored Manuel because he never complicated things, never got in the way and always had their back. There was a sense of “Let’s win this for Chuck,” throughout that postseason and it shined brightly in Game 5 at Dodger Stadium.

Mr. Bright Lights himself, James Calvin Rollins, fought back from an 0-2 count and led off the contest with a full-count home run against Chad Billingsley. Later in the game, Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell had big hits.

Cole Hamels continued his coming out party with seven innings of one-run ball, giving him a total of 22 innings of three-run ball to that point of the postseason. He was named NLCS series MVP.

Hamels labored through a 26-pitch seventh inning in Game 5 and his warning light was flashing when Manuel went to the mound to speak with his pitcher with two outs, two men on base and dangerous Jeff Kent coming up in a four-run game. One swing could have made it a much different ballgame. Manuel looked into Hamels' eyes and the 24-year-old lefty convinced the skipper he was OK. With the count 2-2, Hamels reached back for everything he had on his 104th pitch of the night. Kent took a called third strike in what turned out to be the final at-bat of his great career.

The spectacular bullpen duo of Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge finished it off and at age 64, Charlie Manuel was headed to the World Series as manager of Philadelphia Phillies.

After the game, Manuel said he knew his mom was watching from above and he recalled his last conversation with her.

“Charles Jr.,” she told him, “you’re going to win these games and go to the World Series.”

Moms are always right.

Previously in this series