BOSTON – The Phillies shipped up to Boston, got some out-of-their-mind pitching and took a pair of games from the majors’ top hitting team.
The Phils completed a two-game sweep of the Red Sox with a tense 5-2 win at Fenway Park on Wednesday night.
The Phillies had just six hits in the game, but four of them were for extra bags and accounted for three runs.
The stat is pretty amazing: The Phillies are 57-16 when they score four or more runs. Getting four can be a problem for this offense. They scored just three on Tuesday night but got the win behind Aaron Nola.
The Phillies, who entered the game two back in the NL wild-card chase, head into an off day Thursday with a 66-60 record.
The drought ends
The Phillies scored three runs in the first inning of Tuesday night’s series opener and nothing the rest of the game. Nola and the bullpen made those three runs stand up for the win. The Phils opened Wednesday night’s game with four scoreless innings, running their scoring drought to 12, before putting a three-spot on the board in the fifth inning. Bryce Harper had the big blow, a two-run homer with one out that put the Phils ahead. Harper has 27 homers and 92 RBIs.
Corey Dickerson’s RBI triple in the seventh was a big hit for the Phils. He added an RBI single in the ninth for more valuable insurance. Both of Dickerson’s runs scored Rhys Hoskins, who doubled, walked twice and scored twice out of the leadoff hole. Hoskins scored three of the Phillies’ eight runs in the series.
Keep ‘em in it
Drew Smyly needed 32 pitches (16 strikes, 16 balls) to get through the first inning and, predictably, did not last long. He pitched 3 2/3 innings. But Smyly, who threw 84 pitches in those 3 2/3 innings, did manage to hold the Red Sox to two runs, a feat considering he allowed eight base runners. Smyly did a good job limiting damage and keeping his team in the game. He also got a huge assist from reliever Jared Hughes, who came on with the bases loaded in the bottom of the fourth and retired last year’s American League MVP, Mookie Betts, on a ground ball to third.
The Phillies rallied for three runs in the top of the fifth and Hughes stayed on for a quick shutdown frame, retiring the middle of Boston’s order, in the bottom of the inning.
Check out the bullpen
It was outstanding in the two games. It picked up two scoreless innings Tuesday night and 5 1/3 in this one.
Mike Morin got two big outs in the eighth inning on Tuesday night. He got two more in the seventh in this one. Both nights, he struck out Betts.
Lefty Jose Alvarez, whose contributions have been unsung this season, registered one of the biggest outs of the series when he struck out Chris Owings with runners on second and third to end the eighth and preserve a two-run lead. Harper made a big play in right field earlier in the inning. He cut off a ball that likely saved a run.
Hector Neris saved both wins.
Still not good
The Phillies needed every ounce of their good pitching to win this one because the offense, despite some extra-base pop, went 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position and left nine men on base.
The DH decision
A pregame look at the stat sheet suggested that Brad Miller might get a start as the designated hitter. Miller is 13 for 47 with five homers and 12 RBIs lifetime against Rick Porcello, who was Boston’s starter.
But Gabe Kapler went with Logan Morrison as the DH. He also had good pregame numbers against Porcello – 12 for 40 with two homers and five RBIs.
In making his decision, Kapler watched video of every plate appearance that Miller and Morrison had in their careers against Porcello. That’s over 90 plate appearances. Kapler then went to the Phillies’ recent data on Porcello and noticed that the right-hander had been throwing his four-seam fastball more than his sinking two-seamer. Kapler surmised that Morrison’s swing would fare better against that pitch than Miller’s.
Kapler alerted Miller of his decision with an early afternoon text message.
And that’s the story behind the story on how Kapler picked a DH for the game.
By the way, Morrison was hitless in two at-bats against Porcello.
Vince Velasquez will pitch Friday night in Miami. The Marlins had not named a starter.
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