Phillies ground the Angels with 10 runs. It was just one game, but it was also the first game for Rob Thomson. He became the 56th manager of the Phillies when the team fired Joe Girardi earlier Friday. Thomson didn’t have to push many buttons in his initial contest as the skipper. The players saw to that as they pounded out five home runs and Zach Eflin was outstanding in a 10-0 win over the Los Angeles Angels at Citizens Bank Park. It was the Angels’ ninth loss in a row.
A New Era
Zach Eflin, who pitched eight innings gave up five hits and one walk while striking out six. He allowed a leadoff single, but then got his first two punchouts when he took care of the two- and three-hole hitters in the Angels lineup. These two just happen to be two of the best in baseball – 2021 American League MVP Shohei Ohtani and three-time A.L. MVP Mike Trout.
“He pitched well against everybody,” said Thomson, who becomes the first Canadian-born manager in the Majors since 1934, “but just to get those two guys out in the first inning just calmed things down.”
On the first pitch a Phillie saw in the game, Kyle Schwarber homered to straightaway center field. Another long ball helped the Phillies add to the lead in the second inning when Bryson Stott hit his first career homer – a three-run shot to right field that scored Alec Bohm and Nick Maton.
“They kept putting up runs and I kept putting up zeros,” said Eflin, who improved to 2-4 with a 3.88 ERA. “We just kept feeding off of each other so it’s always nice to have some run support.”
In the fifth, the Phillies’ second three-run dinger of the game came off the bat of Bryce Harper. After Schwarber walked and Rhys Hoskins doubled, Harper went deep to left, his opposite field, to make it 7-0. Later in the frame, Maton, who would leave the game in the sixth after spraining his right shoulder while diving to catch a ball off the bat of Trout, tripled home J.T. Realmuto.
The homer fest continued in the sixth as Schwarber and Harper each hit solo shots. For the Phillies’ left fielder, it was his second two-home run game of the season – the other was May 1st against the Mets. Harper has now hit two homers in a game 24 times.
“That’s your main goal when you get to spring training – to be the best team you can,” said Harper, speaking about the managerial change “and we haven’t been able to do that in the last two months. We’ve got to keep going, playing the game right, playing the game hard. These fans expect that, and the teammates all expect that as well. We can’t stop for nothing, we just gotta keep going.”
Trout’s return and Ohtani’s Philadelphia debut turned out to be afterthoughts, they were a combined 0-for-7 with three strikeouts; Ohtani did walk once. Maton made a great play on Trout on the play he hurt himself. He ranged from the left side of the infield to behind his normal second base spot to make the catch. Odubel Herrera made a nice play to come up with a sinking line drive in Trout’s final at-bat. Phillies ground the Angels.
Maton’s injured shoulder will be revalued on Saturday. Didi Gregorius, who has been on the injured list since May 5th with a knee injury, has made rehab appearances and will be looked at again on Sunday.
In addition to Girardi, coaching assistant Bobby Meacham was let go. The new bench coach is Mike Calitri, he’s been with the organization since 2018, and was most recently quality assurance coach.
Thomson is the second Canadian to manage the Phillies, Arthur Irwin, who managed five Major League teams, guided the Phillies in 1894 and 1895. They finished 4th and 3rd respectively despite an outfield that had three future Hall of Famers – Ed Delahanty, Sam Thompson, and Billy Hamilton.
The Phillies will be looking for consistency from the offense, this is the third time they’ve scored 10 runs, they’ve scored nine four times and 12 runs once. They’ve also been shut out five times. In their 23 victories, they’ve scored 156 runs or 6.8 runs per game. They’ve scored 84 runs in their 29 losses which is an average of 2.89 runs per contest.
Zack Wheeler was named the National League Pitcher of the Month for May. He was 2-0 with a 1.65 ERA in five starts. He gave up six runs in 32.2 innings with 40 strikeouts and just five walks. Phillies ground the Angels but can this keep going?
Rock Hoffman has been covering sports in the Philadelphia region for over 30 years. He’s been the co-host of a radio show – SportsPage – on the Delaware Valley Radio Network (WRDV.org) in the time. He’s reported on games involving all the Philadelphia teams at the profession and collegiate levels. During his career he’s provided coverage for a Super Bowl, an All-Star Game, NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament games as well NFL, MLB and NHL playoff games. Additionally, he’s the College Football Editor for Football Stories Magazine (FootballStories.com).