Miami Marlins

'I think there's better baseball to play,' says Gabe Kapler after Phillies improve to 16-12

'I think there's better baseball to play,' says Gabe Kapler after Phillies improve to 16-12

Zach Eflin displayed a tremendous economy of pitches while dominating the Miami Marlins in a 5-1 Phillies’ win Sunday afternoon.

He showed an equally impressive economy of words after the game.

The right-hander was asked what he learned from his previous outing against the Marlins, a 10-3 loss in Miami two weeks ago.

“Don't throw the ball down the middle every single time,” he said with a chuckle.

Eflin was tagged for 10 hits and six runs in that learning experience game in Miami. He adjusted off that this time, mixed in more sinking fastballs “just to get a little movement,” and the strategy worked brilliantly. He delivered the Phillies’ best start of the season and first complete game since September 2017. He scattered seven hits and did not walk a batter while striking out three (see observations).

The performance allowed the Phillies to take three of four from the Marlins and it gave the bullpen a nice, big, two-day rest before opening a series against the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night.

“It’s huge,” manager Gabe Kapler said of the bullpen’s chill day. “It really is. It was a huge win for the series, but really a huge long-term win for the Phillies.”

The Phils have completed a stretch of 17 games in 17 days and they are in first place in the NL East at 16-12. It’s the same record they had through the same number of games last season.

“It feels like two different teams,” Kapler said. “In all fairness, last year’s club at that point, we were a tad over our skis relative to this club, where it feels like this is more representative of the club that we are — and I think we can be even better than we have been in April, frankly. This was a tough stretch of games without an off day and we emerged from it intact and that was important. We haven’t been at full strength (because of injuries) and our lineup hasn’t clicked the way we all know it can. We got through April, or almost through April, and we’ve done a good job, but I think there’s better baseball to play.”

The Phillies have hit just .228 and averaged 3.8 runs over the last dozen games. They had just four hits on Sunday, but made them count. Two were extra-base hits that drove in runs after walks. Two other runs scored when Marlins pitchers threw wild pitches.

With the way Eflin pitched, the Phillies didn’t need a lot of offense. He needed just 107 pitches to complete the third complete game of his career.

“He had really good intent with his pitches,” catcher Andrew Knapp said. “He attacked from the very first pitch. Obviously, he's got some life — it's 94, 95 (mph), but he put it in the right spots.”

Complete games are endangered species these days. Knapp enjoyed his role in Eflin's.

“It's pretty special, especially with the way pitch counts are going and guys are working counts and whatnot,” he said. “This is my first one in the big leagues and I wouldn't want to do it with any other guy. I've been catching Zach since Double A so we've got a pretty good rapport. It was fun today.”

Eflin was at 99 pitches through eight innings, but Kapler never thought of going to the hook.

“He was efficient and never really had any stressful innings,” Kapler said. “There wasn’t a whole lot of hard contact throughout the game. He was executing his fastballs away. He was executing his sliders on the plate, off the plate. He was elevating well. So there was really never a moment of feeling like we didn’t want to keep pushing him through that game.”

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Phillies 5, Marlins 1: Zach Eflin dazzles in Phillies' best pitching effort of the season

Phillies 5, Marlins 1: Zach Eflin dazzles in Phillies' best pitching effort of the season

BOX SCORE

Zach Eflin pitched a gem as the Phillies completed a successful series against the Miami Marlins with a 5-1 win on Sunday afternoon.

After losing the first game of the series, the Phillies took three in a row to win the series. The Phils are 5-2 against the Marlins on the season and 16-12 overall. They sport a tidy 11-5 record at Citizens Bank Park.

Eflin broke a three-start losing streak to earn the complete-game pitching victory and give the bullpen a nice rest.

Eflin had to be good because the offense produced only four hits on the day. Two of them, however, were extra-base hits to drive in runs. Sometimes it’s not how many hits you get, but when you get ‘em.

The keys

• Eflin delivered the Phillies’ best start of the season.

• With two outs in the bottom of the first inning, Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins combined to see 17 pitches against Marlins starter Pablo Lopez. Harper drew a full-count walk. Hoskins then worked a full count and stroked the ninth pitch of the at-bat to left-center for an RBI double and a lead the Phillies never relinquished.

Two of the Phillies’ runs initially got on base via walks.

• One day after taking a 90-mph fastball off the noggin, Jean Segura passed concussion protocol and was back in the lineup. Segura gave his club a nice lift with an RBI triple in the third inning and a pair of singles later in the game. He scored two of the Phillies’ runs.

Eflin's day

He was in control the whole way in delivering the Phillies’ first complete game since Ben Lively did it in September 2017. The Phils had zero CGs last season.

Eflin threw strikes — he did not walk a batter — and was economical with his pitches. He threw just 99 through eight innings and 107 for the game. He scattered seven hits and struck out three.

The only run that Eflin allowed came in the fourth after second baseman Cesar Hernandez made a poor decision in the infield. Without that, Eflin might have had a shutout.


On the farm

There was another great pitching performance in the neighborhood Sunday afternoon. In Allentown, Nick Pivetta allowed just three hits and a run over six innings for Triple A Lehigh Valley against Buffalo. He walked three and struck out 14.

Thank you very much

Marlins pitchers walked six and threw two wild pitches that resulted in runs.

Up next

The Phillies are off on Monday. They open a quick, two-game interleague series against the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park. The Phils will send Vince Velasquez and Aaron Nola to the mound against Tyson Ross and Spencer Turnbull in that series.

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Phillies 12, Marlins 9: Phillies manage to hold on to nine-run lead

Phillies 12, Marlins 9: Phillies manage to hold on to nine-run lead

Updated: 10:35 p.m.

BOX SCORE 

The Phillies sprinted out to a nine-run lead Saturday night then had to hold on in the late innings for a harder-than-it-should-have-been 12-9 win over the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park.

Phillies pitching, which gave up 17 hits in the game, allowed eight runs from the sixth inning on to make it a one-run game in the eighth.

The Marlins’ comeback started with four straight hits against starter Jake Arrieta in the sixth inning.

The Phils are 4-2 against the Marlins this season, 15-12 overall and 10-5 at home.

The keys 

• The Phillies prevailed because their offense produced 13 hits, including homers by Nick Williams, Andrew McCutchen and Rhys Hoskins, and 12 runs.

Hoskins clubbed his eighth homer of the season, a two-run shot in the bottom of the eighth, and it was a big one because it turned a one-run game into a three-run game and allowed Hector Neris some breathing room in the ninth. That proved valuable because the Marlins brought the tying run to the plate with two outs.

• Maikel Franco returned to the No. 8 spot in the batting order and had two singles and two runs scored. He drove in two runs with a two-out single in the fifth. Franco has 20 RBIs and a .952 OPS in 20 games in the No. 8 spot.

• The Phillies played some good defense. Starting pitcher Arrieta picked off a runner in the second inning. Centerfielder Andrew McCutchen made a diving catch in the gap in the fourth and rightfielder Bryce Harper cut down a run at the plate to stop a Miami rally in the sixth. Third baseman Franco followed with a nifty play to his right to open the seventh. Each of these plays become more and more important as the Marlins inched back into the game after trailing 10-1 after five innings.

Scary scene 

Shortstop Jean Segura was activated from the injured list before the game and batted second in the Phillies’ lineup. Segura, however, did not stay in the game long. He was struck in the helmet by a 90-mph fastball from Trevor Richards in the bottom of the second. Segura went down hard and lay on the ground for several moments before leaving the field (and the game) under his own power. He was replaced by Sean Rodriguez.

Segura went through concussion protocol after leaving the game.

“We don’t think he has one,” manager Gabe Kapler said after the game. “He’s doing OK. We’ll evaluate him more (Sunday).”

Arrieta’s night

Arrieta was very good at the plate and on the mound early in the game. He dropped down an important sacrifice bunt in the Phils’ four-run second inning and singled home a run in the fifth. He allowed just one run through five innings, but battled a high pitch count and hit turbulence in the top of the sixth. He gave up four straight hits to open that inning and was charged with four runs in the frame. Arrieta, who had opened the season with five straight quality starts, was charged with five runs over five-plus innings of work.

Sights and sounds

Dan Baker, the Phillies public address announcer since 1972, missed a game for the first time in the Citizens Bank Park era because he was under the weather. Scott Palmer handled the PA duties.

Up next

The series concludes on Sunday afternoon. Zach Eflin (2-3, 4.15) faces Marlins lefty Pablo Lopez (2-3, 4.44).

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