It took 10 runs, seven pitchers and a lot of deep breaths, but the Phillies pulled off what was probably their best series win of the season by beating the Milwaukee Brewers, 10-9, Sunday at Miller Park. It did not end until Odubel Herrera made a leaping catch in front of the center-field wall after the Brewers had closed to within a run by scoring four times off struggling reliever Hector Neris in the bottom of the ninth inning.
By taking two of three from the Brewers, the Phillies earned a season-series split of their six games with the Brewers. The series draw was reminiscent of the 1960 World Series when the New York Yankees outscored the Pittsburgh Pirates by 26 runs and still lost in seven games when Bill Mazeroski homered in the bottom of the ninth. The Brewers outscored the Phillies by 50-27 in their six games over a 10-day period.
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The Phillies will open a three-game series with the St. Louis Cardinals tonight at Citizens Bank Park, and the teams have a lot more in common than the red in their uniforms. Both teams are 37-32. The Phillies have scored 296 runs, and the Cardinals have scored 294. The Cardinals have a .710 team OPS. The Phillies have a .705 OPS. The Phillies have a .317 on-base percentage, just two points higher than the Cardinals' OBP. The Cardinals have a 3.68 ERA, and the Phillies have a 3.88 ERA.
The teams split a four-game series last month at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, and both appear to be fringe contenders for wild-card playoff spots. They are both third in their respective divisions. The Cardinals trail the Brewers and Cubs, and the Phillies trail the Braves and Nationals.
St. Louis' strength so far this season has been its pitching, which includes tonight's starter, Miles Mikolas. After spending three successful years in Japan, the San Diego Padres' 2009 seventh-round pick returned to the big leagues this season on a two-year, $15.5 million contract with the Cardinals.
It has been an outstanding investment. Mikolas is 7-2 with a 2.43 ERA. The last and only time he faced the Phillies was as a rookie reliever with San Diego in 2012. The Phillies must also face Michael Wacha (8-2, 3.24) on Wednesday. He will go against Jake Arrieta, who is 0-3 with a 7.98 ERA in his last three starts.
Maikel Franco made the most of his second start in just 11 days, providing a pair of hits, including a home run, and four RBIs in the Phillies' wild 10-9 win over the Brewers. Will he get the call again Monday night at home against St. Louis?
The Phillies needed the run they scored in the eighth off Milwaukee reliever Adrian Houser. They got it only after the Brewers pitcher barfed behind the mound.
Our Scott Lauber sat down with manager Gabe Kapler to discuss the manager's strategy in deploying his bullpen in a far less than traditional way. Scott calls it Bullpen by Gabe.
After a nine-game stay on the disabled list during which the Phillies went just 2-7, Rhys Hoskins is back and swinging the bat the way he did last season and this April.
Despite some turbulent times recently, the Phillies are still in a lot better position than they were a year ago at this time. My column tackles the issue of how good teams learn how to navigate through the inevitable rough stretches of a 162-game season.
Tom Eshelman had a strong outing as triple-A Lehigh Valley remained hot, and double-A Reading ended a six-game losing streak with the help of a three-run home run by Darick Hall. The minor-league report is here.
Tonight: Nick Pivetta against Miles Mikolas in series opener vs. Cardinals, 7:05 p.m.
Tomorrow: Vince Velasquez vs. Luke Weaver, 7:05 p.m.
Wednesday: Jake Arrieta vs. Michael Wacha, 1:05 p.m.
Thursday: Off day
Friday: Zach Elfin pitches series opener in Washington, 7:05 p.m.
The late Darren Daulton became the first Phillies player to hit a home run as a designated hitter on this date in 1997, a two-run shot off Boston's Jeff Suppan at Fenway Park. Eight years earlier on this date, general manager Lee Thomas made two blockbuster trades, sending Steve Bedrosian to San Francisco for Terry Mulholland, Dennis Cook and Charlie Hayes, and Juan Samuel to the New York Mets for Lenny Dykstra and Roger McDowell.
I have issues with both Matt Klentak and Gabe Kapler with respect to [Sunday's] game. First of all, why hit for Victor Arano with a 5-run lead after he had just struck out a very dangerous hitter? I could understand the move if the PH were Nick Williams instead of Andrew Knapp, but, otherwise, I just don't get it.
I won't even comment on Hector Neris' miserable performance, but Jake Thompson vs. Christian Yelich is not a good match-up. Will Matt Klentak ever get us a competent ( i.e, not Adam Morgan) LH reliever for these situations? For a team like the Phillies, who may end up on the playoff bubble, this shortfall could prove fatal. Is trading for a LHP really that difficult?
Jim L., via email