Reeling in the Rays

After a disappointing series at home against one of the worst teams in the majors, the Nationals.  The Phillies were starting a six-game road trip to round out the first half of the season.  Facing the Rays first, who have the best record in the American League. A team in the Rays who have not lost very often at home. The Rays’ offensive numbers have been in the top three in many offensive categories.  The Phillies offense has been inconsistent. With the Rays scheduled to have two back-to-back bullpen games, maybe the Phillies could catch a break. The Phillies do an amazing job reeling in the Tampa Bay Rays.

Nola Dazzles

The Phillies would send Aaron Nola to the mound in hopes of getting back on Cy Young track like he was last season. Nola would face a familiar friend in Zach Eflin. Eflin and Nola had gotten very close to each other during their time together with the Phillies. After the game, Nola mentioned that facing Eflin was like facing off against his brother. This pitching matchup would live up to the hype, with both pitchers going deep into the game and pitching very well.  The Phillies’ offense would strike early and really never lose their lead. With an RBI single by Alec Bohm in the top of the second inning, the Phillies would take the early lead.

The game would then get dominated by the best friends by shitting down all offenses for the majority of the game. In the top of the seventh inning, another daycare kid would come through with another RBI single.  Stott would hit his league-leading 53rd hit with two outs and come through in the clutch.  Harper would tack on another insurance run in the top of the eighth inning.  The Phillies would take game one of this important series by a final score of 3-1.

Offensive Backs Walker

In game two of this series, the Phillies would send Walker to the mound to face another Zach.  Walker has been on a winning streak and has started to look more like the pitcher the Phillies wanted all along.  Walker would be facing off against the Rays’ “opener” Zach Littell.  Unlike the first game of this series, both teams would not waste any time getting on the scoreboard. In the bottom of the first inning, the Rays would get on the board with a Lowe two-run double. But it would not take long for the Phillies to respond.  The Phillies would strike with two RBI singles in the top of the second inning. This offensive outburst by both teams would go back and forth until the fifth inning. Turner would blast a solo home run in the top of the fifth.  Stott would join Turner’s efforts by hitting an RBI single to give the Phillies back the lead, which they would never lose again for the rest of the game.  The Phillies would go on to win this game 8-4. 

For the Sweep

The Phillies took the first two games of this series, which meant that they handed the Rays a rare home series loss.  Could the Phillies do what has not been done this season to the Rays, and that is sweep them?  The Phillies would send Christopher Sanches to the mound, and he would be opposed by another Rays “opener” in Armstrong. This game would begin to look a lot like the first game of this series. The offenses were silenced for the majority of the game.  Until the fifth inning, and “Long Ball” Hall would strike for a solo home run. In the bottom of that inning, the Rays would respond with a solo home run of their own to tie the game at one. This score would hold up for the remainder of the game, and it would eventually need extra innings to get a winner. In the top of the eleventh inning, the top of the Phillies order would come through with a pair of RBI singles to give the Phillies the eventual win by the final score of 3-1.

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Reeling in the Rays

There is much to talk about in regard to this series win for the Phillies, but the biggest headline is that the Phillies proved that they could dominate the best team in the American League in their home.  Another historical headline could be what happens tonight in Miami. The Phillies could tie their franchise record for a road-winning streak at 13.  The Phillies do an amazing job reeling in the Tampa Bay Rays.

This record has stood since the 1975 season. Another big headline from this series is the emergence of the starting pitching for the Phillies coming around at the right time.  Nola had a very strong outing in game one, Walker collected his tenth win of the season, which only three other pitchers have done thus far, and Sanches is starting to look like a strong fifth-starting pitcher. All these pitchers had quality starts against a team that could have buried any confidence that those pitchers were trying to accumulate. 

Despite the All-star break on the horizon, the next series is against the team that is right above the Phillies in the Wild Card race, and taking care of business in South Beach this weekend could go a long way for the Phillies in the second half of the season. As a wise man said, “if you can win more than 50% of your road games, you should make the playoffs”.  If we are certain of anything about these Phillies, they need an invitation to the party in the playoffs to make some noise and dance on their own.
Joe Marks
Joe Marks