Phils Take First Game Against Braves 3-0, Series Continues Tonight

Was hoping to get this up earlier today but ran out of time. I should be better with tonight’s game’s recap so keep an eye out for that. Greg and I will be recording a new Bullpen Cart tonight as well, let us know if you have any questions you want us to answer! If you haven’t listened to Matty D and I breaking down the first quarter of the Phillies’ season, go check that out here.

The Phillies dispatched the Atlanta Braves in a 3-0 shutout win last night at Citizens Bank Park. Nick Pivetta once again spun an absolute gem pitching seven innings with seven strikeouts and only four hits. Pivetta also retired eleven-straight Braves between the final out of the third inning and first out of the seventh inning. In fact, he only really got into trouble in second and third innings due to small blips by the Phillies defense. The first blip was a deflected grounder off the out-stretched glove of Cesar Hernandez that allowed Kurt Suzuki to advance to third in the second inning (Hernandez was nearly at deep short and Suzuki was running a 3-2 pitch with two outs). The second blip came in the third due to a fielding error by Carlos Santana to allow Ronald Acuna to reach base though Pivetta never waivered. Pivetta has been mowing down his opponents over his last few starts and has been gaining confidence along the way, especially last night against a hot Atlanta offense. Seranthony Dominguez and Hector Neris pitched the eighth and ninth, respectively, with Dominguez allowing the only hit of the final two frames. Neris looked very impressive last night returning to a traditional closing role and moves now to converting 9 of 12 save opportunities. I’m not going to knock the coaching staff for returning to Neris because at the very least, sending him out against the 3-4-5 hitters of one of the hotter offenses in baseball shows a vote of confidence. And while Neris may not be everyone’s long-term solution for the closer, 2018 and beyond, a vote of confidence can go a long way for other bullpen appearances from Neris as well.

Offensively, the Phillies converted three runs on nine hits (13 total baserunners) with all three runs coming from two home runs: Nick Williams’ solo shot in the 4th and Aaron Altherr’s two-run pinch-hit bomb in the 7th. It’s important to note that the Phillies only managed to get three runners into scoring position, converting none of them. Obviously, when your pitchers are dialed in the ways Pivetta, Dominguez, and Neris all were, these types of hitting stats come across as no-harm, no-foul. However, Neris could regress to the near 4.50 ERA pitcher we’ve seen in 2018 and Dominguez has let up a run at some point, right? Further, outside of Pivetta, Aaron Nola, and Jake Arrieta, the starting staff has looked strong recently, but we’ll see how long that lasts. I’m looking at you, Vince Velasquez.

Speaking of, the Phillies and Braves return to action tonight with Velasquez on the hill for the Phils and Brandon McCarthy pitching for the Braves. This is the fourth time these two pitchers square off, once each series this season, with McCarthy taking all three Ws. Since the last McCarthy/Velasquez bout, Vince has been on a tear going 3-0 in the month of May with a 2.08 ERA. Something’s gotta give between these two as both offenses should be more efficient than they were last night. The action begins at 7:05 ET and you can catch it locally in Philadelphia on NBS Sports Philadelphia.

Other Notes from Last Night’s Win:

  • Jorge Alfaro looked GREAT last night both behind the plate and while batting. After nearly gunning down Freddie Freeman in the first inning, Alfaro did catch Johan Camargo in the 7th. Alfaro also gunned down a number of runners who tried to catch him off guard with a bunt, including the final play of the game.

  • Rhys Hoskins and Maikel Franco have both stayed in their respective slumps combining to go 0 for 8 last night. The crazy part of the Phillies’ 11-6 month of May has been their serious lack of contribution–Hoskins is batting .159 (2 HR, 8 RBI) and Franco is batting .234 (3 HR, 7 RBI). Hoskins will definitely get out of his slump and I’m starting to think if Franco doesn’t in the next couple weeks, we’ll start seeing more 3B starts from Scott Kingery.

Let me know what you thought of last night’s game and any predictions you have for tonight!

(cover photo via)

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