When you’re hot, you’re hot and the Phillies are nothing if not hot. With a 4-0 win over the Arizona Diamondback on Saturday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park, they’ve now won nine games in a row. It’s the first time they’ve had a nine-game winning streak since July 29 to August 6, 2011. The key to this win was the outstanding performance of starting pitcher Zack Wheeler. Wheeler was a little distracted this week with the birth of his daughter on Tuesday. Nonetheless, Wheeler pitched six innings allowing just a pair of hits while striking out eight without a walk.
From Wheeler and the Skip
“It’s an all-around good week,” said Wheeler, who has allowed just two earned runs with .80 WHIP in his last five starts at CBP. “Obviously, the birth of my little baby girl, it’s awesome, and come out here perform well today, this is icing on the cake.”
Additionally, manager Rob Thomson penciled Matt Vierling in to start at second base, it’s the first time he’s ever played the position. Vierling handled eight chances flawlessly.
“I had a feeling if I’m out there the balls going to be hit to me a lot,” said Vierling, who is an outfielder but has played a handful of games at first base in the majors. Also, he manned first as well as third base in college and the minor leagues. “I’m glad it went well, and I felt pretty comfortable out there,”
In high school, Vierling played shortstop his senior year while his brother, Mark, was at second.
“He’s here right now,” Vierling told The Edge of Philly. “He told me, ‘I taught you everything you know.’ He played second all through college, he’s been giving me pointers for a long time. He’s been great.”
To the Action
The red-hot Rhys Hoskins (he’s 7-of-18 in the last four games and last night, had a two-homer game) doubled down the left-field line with one out in the first inning, and he moved to third on Bryce Harper’s groundout then scored on a single to left by Nick Castellanos.
With one out in the second inning, Odubel Herrera was safe on an error by Diamondback’s third baseman, Josh Rojas. Matt Vierling forced out Herrera. The Phils still capitalized on the extra out they received when Bryson Stott slugged his fourth home run of the season (all in the last eight games). Stott hit a down-and-in curveball to the seats in right to make it 3-0. When you are hot!
Wheeler left after six innings, Jeurys Familia entered the game and struggled to throw strikes. He got to 3-0 on Rojas, the first batter he faced, before striking him out. Christian Walker grounded to Stott then David Peralta beat the shift with a single to left, Alek Thomas was safe at first on a ball he tapped in front of the plate. Familia walked Geraldo Perdomo then left for Andrew Bellatti, who got pinch hitter Ketel Marte to fly out to deep center.
“You want a right-hander against Marte and you want a slider,” said Thomson, who became just the third manager since 1900 to win his first eight games at the helm. “So, we thought that was probably the better matchup.”
Bellatti got the nod because Seranthony Dominguez was unavailable because he appeared in the previous two games.
“It’s next man up,” added Thomson, “and when somebody’s down the next guy steps up and gets the job done. He did it. It was good. It was a big out.”
Brad Hand rebounded from a rough outing on Friday night with a 1-2-3 eighth. In the bottom half, the Phillies added a run on a check-swing double by Castellanos that drove on Harper. Christopher Sanchez pitched the ninth and allowed a couple of runners. The game ended on a ground ball to Vierling, naturally. When you’re hot, you’re hot. Can the Phillies continue
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).