After a week-long hiatus due to the Miami Marlins COVID-19 outbreak, the Philadelphia Phillies returned to action on Monday with a four-game series against the New York Yankees. There were twists and turns on and off the field, but the Phillies managed to take two of four games from one of the best teams in the American League.

Game 1: Phillies Return to Action, Arrieta Can’t Outduel Cole in Yankee Stadium

The Phillies finally returned to action on Monday night, playing the Yankees in New York. The Yankees would start ace pitcher Gerrit Cole, their crown jewel of the offseason. Philadelphia countered with Jake Arrieta, making his season debut. While manager Joe Giradi could have went with his Opening Day pitcher, Aaron Nola, he instead kept the rotation moving and saved Nola (originally for Tuesday, but became Wednesday after Tuesday’s game was rained out.)

Cole made short work of the top of the Phillies lineup, retiring the first six batters he faced over two innings. But designated hitter Jay Bruce took Cole deep for his first home run of the season. This would equalize the score at 1-1, after DJ LeMahieu hit a homer of his own in the first inning off Arrieta.

 

The Yankees would regain their lead in the bottom of the inning, as 13-year Yankee Brett Gardner poked a 351-foot home run into the left field stands. Aaron Hicks would score Aaron Judge later in the inning to give New York a 3-1 lead in the third.

Arrieta would only be tagged for those three runs over five innings. He gave up seven hits, didn’t walk any hitters, and struck out four batters.

Deolis Guerra took over at the mound for the Phillies in the sixth inning, and allowed the Yankees to grow their lead. After walking Hicks and hitting Giancarlo Stanton with a pitch, Guerra surrendered a three-run home run to Gio Urshela.

The game would enter a one hour, seven minute rain delay. With six innings in the books and a 6-1 lead for the Yankees, the game could have potentially been called, but ultimately resumed at 10:15 PM ET.

The Phillies would add a couple more runs, on an Adam Haseley RBI single in the seventh and a Juan Segura RBI single in the eighth.

Scott Kingery, pinch hitter Phil Gosselin, and Andrew McCutchen all went down in the ninth inning as Yankees closer Zack Britton earned his fourth save of the season and the Yankees prevailed 6-3. Arrieta was credited with the loss, but the Phillies would have had a fighting chance if not for Urshela’s three-run bomb in the sixth.

McCutchen recorded his first hit of the season on Monday night, after going 0-for-9 to start the season. That’s not to say he’s out of his slump, however, as he went just 1-for-5 against the Yankees, giving him an abysmal .071 batting average.

Game 2: Wheeler Wins Again, Phillies Erupt for 11-7 Victory in Seven Innings

Zack Wheeler settled down after a shaky start, and the Phillies offense got back to business on Wednesday in the first game of a doubleheader with the Yankees.

Tuesday’s game in Yankee Stadium was postponed a day in advance, as Hurricane Isaias was sure to make playing in either New York or Philadelphia impossible. This created a unique quirk: to save time in an already hectic season, the Yankees traveled to Philadelphia to play a doubleheader. But in the first game, the Yankees would serve as the home team, as the game was originally intended to be in New York. With no fans in the stands, this simply means the Yankees batted last in each inning at Citizens Bank Park.

 

With a recently passed measure to reduce doubleheaders to seven innings per game during the 2020 MLB season, the Phillies and Yankees would play fourteen innings in total on Wednesday, rather than the traditional eighteen.

The Yankees scored in the first inning for the second straight game, as Gleyber Torres traded grounding into a double play for a LeMahieu run. In the second, Gardner would hit another home run, also repeating the results of his first at-bat on Monday. The two-run shot to right field gave the Yankees an early 3-0 lead off Wheeler.

New York had J.A. Happ on the mound for the first game of the doubleheader. The 37-year-old lefty played his first three and a half major league seasons with Philadelphia, including a 12-4 record with a 2.93 ERA in 2009, a season culminating in the Phillies World Series loss to the Yankees.

After McCutchen miraculously reached base, via a walk, Bryce Harper would take Happ to deep right for a two-run home run, Harper’s second of the season.

 

Happ would finish the third inning on the mound, but not before the Phillies added additional damage. Gosselin was walked with the bases loaded, scoring J.T. Realmuto. In the next at-bat, Roman Quinn would ground into a fielder’s choice, scoring Juan Segura.

With third base manned by Phil Gosselin, shortstop by Juan Segura, and second base by Scott Kingery, Didi Gregorius, the Phillies best everyday hitter so far, wasn’t tasked with starting the game.

Realmuto delivered a towering, 398-foot home run into the left field stands that stayed fair in the sixth inning, extending the Phillies lead to 5-3.

Philadelphia broke the game open in the sixth inning, adding an additional six runs. On the mound for New York for this Phillies rally was right-handed pitcher Nick Nelson. Nelson gave up six runs, seven hits, and a walk over 1.2 innings pitched as Philadelphia roughed him up.

 

The Phillies sent 11 batters to the plate in the sixth, with every position batting at least once, as well as Quinn and Jay Bruce batting twice each. Scoring came on:

  • Hoskins singled to left, Quinn scored
  • Harper grounded into fielder’s choice to second, Bruce scored on error by catcher Higashioka and McCutchen scored
  • Realmuto reached on infield single to third, Hoskins scored
  • Kingery singled to shallow right, Harper scored
  • Gregorius reached on infield single to third, Segura scored

The explosive inning gave the Phillies an 11-3 lead, and due to the shortened game, Philadelphia needed just six more outs to close out a victory.

The Yankees added four runs in the seventh and final inning, as Thairo Estrada drove a run home. Judge added a three-run blast that made the score 11-7. Philadelphia used three pitchers in the seventh, with Hector Neris throwing just a single pitch that would equate to save, with the tying run on deck.

The Phillies got hits from eight different positions, excluding only left field. McCutchen, the left fielder, went 0-for-3, but reached base and scored twice on walks. His batting average lowered even further to .059.

Wheeler earned his second win of the season, for the Phillies second win of the season. He pitched six innings, allowing six hits and two runs, walking two batters as well as striking out two. He exited the game with a dominant 2.08 ERA on the 2020 season.

Game 3: Nola’s Strong Start Spoiled by Tommy Hunter, Yankees 7th Inning Scoring

After taking the first game of the doubleheader as the road team, the Phillies assumed their regular home team role in the doubleheader’s nightcap. Ace Aaron Nola pitched six dominant innings, but the game slipped away from Philadelphia in the seventh and final inning.

In the early game, the Phillies erupted for 11 runs in just seven innings (a pace of 14.1 runs per nine innings.) In this game, that offense was nowhere to be found. Philadelphia managed just three hits: off the bats of Haseley, Neil Walker, and Andrew Knapp. Knapp slapped home an RBI single in the second inning, scoring Walker. This tied the game at 1-1, after Nola allowed a 420-foot home run to Yankees first baseman Luke Voit.

And that would end the hits for the Phillies in Game 2 of the doubleheader. All three hits came in the first two innings, off Yankees starter Jonathan Loaisiga. Loaisiga recorded just 2.1 innings pitches, giving up three hits, a run, and a walk.

The Yankees bullpen, led by efforts from Avilan, Green, Ottavanio, and closer Zach Britton, wouldn’t allow another hit, walk, or run for the rest of the game.

Still, Nola kept the game at 1-1 through six innings pitched. Nola allowed three hits and one run, striking out an impressive 12 batters through six innings, earning 2/3 of his outs via strikeout.

But Nola’s impressive effort was negated by relief pitcher Tommy Hunter in the seventh inning. Hunter failed to record an out, surrendering four hits, and ultimately, two runs in the final regulation inning of the doubleheader. First, Mike Tauchman hit a double that would score Stanton and give the Yankees a late lead. An Urshela single that scored Tyler Wade gave New York a 3-1 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh.

The Phillies needed at least two runs over Britton to keep the game alive. For some inexplicable reason, Giradi tagged McCutchen and his .056 batting average to pinch hit as the inning’s first batter. This ended in a routine ground out for the struggling outfielder. Britton went on to retire Kingery and Walker, securing the Yankees win as well as his league-leading fifth save of the season.

The game’s winning pitcher, Adam Ottavino, recorded just one out in the sixth inning. Hunter, the losing pitcher, failed to record a single out.

This was the Yankees second win in the four-game series, guaranteeing New York at least a split of the series with the Phillies.

Game 4

The fourth and final game of the series pitted Phillies pitcher Zach Eflin against Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery.

The Phillies attacked early and chased Montgomery out of the game after he threw 95 pitches in four innings, allowing six hits and five runs.

Still somehow deemed worthy of batting leadoff, McCutchen lined out to shortstop to start the game. But after a Rhys Hoskins walk and a Bryce Harper single, J.T. Realmuto sent his teammates home with a 357-foot, three-run home run to left field.

 

Eflin allowed two unearned runs in the second inning, as a fielder’s choice yielded no outs after an error at second base by Kingery. Later in the inning, that should have had three outs already, Tauchman drove in two runs on an RBI single to cut the Phillies lead to 3-2.

Philadelphia responded in the third inning, scoring Realmuto and Harper on a Gosselin double for a 5-2 lead.

Eflin would leave the game after four innings and 77 pitches, allowing four hits and two unearned runs. He walked one batter and struck out five. Though he exited the game with a lead that the Phillies would never relinquish, Eflin failed to pitch the minimum five innings required for a starting pitcher to be credited with a win.

Sanchez hit a two-run home run for the Yankees in the seventh inning, off Nick Pivetta, but Philadelphia would hold on for a 5-4 victory. Hector Neris earned his second save of the season, recording the final four outs in Citizens Bank.

The Phillies and Yankees split the series at two games a piece. For Philadelphia, taking two of four against the league’s hottest team, and after a week of inaction, definitely isn’t bad. The Phillies have a ways to go improving their bullpen and their offensive consistency, but earning a split is slightly encouraging moving forward.

McCutchen had his first multi-hit game of the season, going 2-for-4 and raising his batting average to .136. Realmuto led the Phillies with two runs scored, three runs batted in, and a 2-for-4 day at the plate, raising his batting average to .333, the highest of any Phillies everyday player this season.

NL East Standings

  1. Miami Marlins (6-1, .857 winning percentage)
  2. Atlanta Braves (9-5, .643)
  3. Washington Nationals (4-5, .444)
  4. Philadelphia Phillies (3-4, .429)
  5. New York Mets (5-8, .385)

Highlighted Stats

  • The Phillies and Yankees each scored 20 runs over four games. But the Phillies did it less consistently: scoring 3, 11, 1, and 5 runs. The Yankees offense was a bit smoother, scoring 6, 7, 3, and 4 runs.
  • J.T. Realmuto is the only qualified Phillie batter with an average over .300, leading the team with a .333 average. His three home runs, six runs scored, eight hits and eight runs batted in also all lead the team.
  • Bryce Harper, who is tied for the team lead with six runs scored, has the third best average on the team at .250. But his seven walks have the right fielder leading the team in on-base percentage at .464.
  • Zack Wheeler is making an early impression in Philadelphia, going 2-0 in his first two starts, allowing three earned runs and 11 hits over 13 innings.
  • Closer Hector Norris has yet to give up a run, earning two saves over 2.1 innings pitched.

Moving Forward

The Phillies (3-4) meet the Atlanta Braves (9-5) for a weekend series in Citizens Bank Park. By the time the series is over, the Phillies will have played nine of their first ten games in Philadelphia, including one game as the “away” team against the Yankees.

If Philadelphia is to compete in this 60-game season, taking two or three of these games against the Braves would go a long way in contending for the NL East.

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