Phillies Beat: May 15, 2018
The Philadelphia Phillies (23 – 16, .590) begin a quick 2-game interleague series in Baltimore vs. the Orioles after winning five out of their last six games and seven of ten. They are currently in second place in the National League East, just 1.5 games behind the surprising Atlanta Braves. The Orioles enter play on Tuesday night with a record of 13 – 28 (.317) but 10 out of their 13 wins have come at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
On September 25, 2017, Odubel Herrera ended a 0 for 17 stretch (8 K’s) by going 2 for 4 with a homer in a 3 – 1 loss at home to the Washington Nationals. He went 0 for 4 with 2 K’s the next day but then, on September 27, Herrera went 2 for 4 with a double, a walk, a run scored and a RBI. Since then, to say that Herrera has been the straw that stirs the drink would be an understatement. Odubel has reached base by hit, walk or hit-by-pitch in 41 straight games. Over that 41-game stretch, he is hitting .361 with 7 HR and 29 RBIs. The 26-year old center-fielder has really turned it on over the past couple of weeks. Over his last seven contests, Philadelphia’s star center fielder has gone 13 for 24 at the dish with 3 HR and 10 RBIs. Over his last fifteen, he’s 21 for 54 with 5 HR and 15 RBIs.
— SERC (@SERCenter) May 15, 2018
Lights Out in Nola
No, not New Orleans, but the Phillies’ own Louisiana native has been absolutely lights out on the mound so far in 2018. In 60 innings spanning nine starts, Aaron Nola is 6 – 1 with a 1.99 ERA, with 51 K’s and only 13 bases on balls allowed. The 2014 1st round selection out of Louisiana State (#7 overall) has allowed only three homers in the 2018 campaign and opponents are batting a paltry .218 against him. He is the first Phillies pitcher to win six of his first decisions with an ERA under 2.00 since the late Roy Halladay did so in 2010. Even more impressive, however, have to be the 0.99 WHIP, a 17.5% improvement over his lifetime WHIP of 1.20, and MLB-leading 2.9 WAR.
After their 2-game set in Baltimore against the Orioles, the Phillies will travel to St. Louis for a weekend series against the always dangerous St. Louis Cardinals. They then return home for a 3-game series against the Atlanta Braves – yes, the Braves… again! – and a 3-game interleague series against the Toronto Blue Jays before wrapping up the month with a 4-game series in Los Angeles against the Dodgers. The three meetings against the Braves will be games 10, 11 and 12 against Atlanta. The Phils are 3 – 6 in the first nine contests. If the Phillies expect to overtake the Braves for first place in the NL East, they will need to win at least two games in this series, if not complete the sweep. And, the Phillies voyage to LA will be their first return to Dodger Stadium since they were swept there last April in a game that featured one of the worst implosions of Hector Neris’ young career.
Let’s hope the Phils fare better on this year’s visit to Chavez Ravine in the shadows of Hollywood.