By: Matthew Mack
The San Diego Padres came into Citizens Bank Park for a three game series against the Philadelphia Phillies. Facing a potent lineup, the Phillies pitching staff had to step-up. Despite the woes that they were experiencing.
Friday night, Zack Wheeler had it working! In seven and two/thirds innings of work he kept the Padres in check. He gave up four hits and struck out nine batters while giving up zero runs. The batters for the Phillies had their pitchers back. They put runs on the board with RBIs by Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto in the first. Shortsstop Didi Gregorius, who just returned from the injured list hit a solo home run in the fifth. The Phillies bullpen struggled once again. As San Diego stormed back to tie the game in the ninth. Fernando Tatís hit an RBI double to score one and Jurickson Profar slammed a double of his own, scoring Tatís and Trent Grisham. The game went to extra innings. In the 10th, Brad Miller was the batter with runners at 2nd & 3rd. He slammed one to dead center field, scoring the winning run at third. Many thought the ball was gone as Miller rounded the bases with joy, even though it was ruled an RBI double. The Phillies win four to three.
Saturday afternoon baseball turned into Saturday night baseball with a 2-hour rain delay. When the game finally got underway. Padres hitter Manny Machado drew first blood by launching a 2-run bomb to center field off Phillies pitcher Zach Eflin. In the second, back-to-back jacks were in order as Harper and Hoskins slammed solo bombs to tie the game. Then, these two men had more RBIs to create when Harper gave himself up with a fly ball to right, scoring Realmuto, and Hoskins doubled to left. Though Yu Darvish did his thing on the mound in six innings of work with eight strikeouts, he gave up all the runs. Eflin held his own in the same number of innings, giving up just three hits. The bullpen entered and got the job done! Bailey Falter, Archie Bradley, and Ranger Súarez worked together to hold the Padres scoreless to win the game and give Súarez his first Major League save.
On the 4th of July, the Phillies were going for the sweep and had a lot of confidence with Vinny Velasquez on the hill. Machado broke that confidence hitting a home run to get the offensive onslaught started. With Tatís at second, it was two-zero. He was not done. With a high fastball, he leveled it into the left center field seats with a 3-run bomb. This game included eight double play balls by both teams even though San Diego are among the league leaders in that category. In the ninth inning, Héctor Neris came in to get some work in. As he mowed down the first two batters. He had what looked like strike three but it was not called and walked a hitter. Then the floodgates opened. Literally! With the rain pouring down Eric Hosmer with bases loaded, hit a bases-clearing double to put the Padres up 8-1. After that Webster Rivas, who was hitless all day, slammed a three-run homer to really put the game out of reach.
Philadelphia won the series. Even though the series sweep was not in the cards, the main accomplishment was to get a win. As they get ready to travel to Chicago for a four-game series. They need to continue building momentum as they head into All-Star break. Dave Dombrowski and the rest of the front office have some work to do. The question is are they buyers or sellers. The team and how it is constructed need more help.