MLB Wild Card race: Phillies put foot on pedal, run over Pirates to retake control

MLB Wild Card race: Phillies put foot on pedal, run over Pirates to retake control

PITTSBURGH – The Phillies didn’t hit the Powerball Thursday night, but they did hit their magic number.

Four.

When the Phillies score at least four runs, they are hard to beat. They scored their fourth run in the second inning Thursday night and beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 8-7, behind Zack Wheeler at PNC Park.

The victory was more difficult than it should have been.

It was an 8-2 game heading into the bottom of the ninth. Jeurys Familia was tagged for five runs in the inning, forcing Seranthony Dominguez to come in for the save.

“You’re up 8-2, you don’t think you’re going to need closer, but sometimes it happens,” manager Rob Thomson said.

– But I thought we played very well. We swung the bats well. Everyone had a hit. We played really good defense.”

The Phillies are 24-2 in the last 26 times they have scored four or more runs and 43-16 for the season on those occasions.

Not too bad.

The win over the Pirates, in the opener of a key four-game series days before the trade deadline, put the Phils at 52-47 on the season, tied with St. Louis for control of the third and final NL wild-card spot. The Phils actually have the edge over the Cardinals based on winning the season series between the two teams.

The Phils rolled into Pittsburgh on the heels of a 7-2 win over Atlanta on Sunday. The Pirates entered the game with eight losses in their previous 10 games and were 18 games under .500. On top of it all, they are the worst offensive team in the National League. All of this produced a mismatch in the Phillies’ favor, but it was no guarantee. Earlier in the week, the Phillies were swept by the Chicago Cubs, another NL Central team with a poor record and no chance to make the postseason.

Thomson warned against taking the Pirates lightly when he said on Sunday: “Don’t take anything for granted. Get in there, play your game. You get out front, put your foot on the pedal and run over people.”

The Phillies wasted no time getting ahead. They had four straight one-out hits, including a two-run triple by Darick Hall and an RBI single by Nick Castellanos, as they scored three first-inning runs against Pittsburgh starter Zack Thompson.

Alec Bohm had one of the hits in the first half. He added an RBI single in the second.

Bohm batted third in the order when Thomson rested catcher JT Relamuto. Bohm has been swinging the bat brilliantly over the past month. He is hitting .418 (36 for 86) in his last 23 games and riding a 13-game hitting streak. Bohm also made a stellar defensive play at third base behind Wheeler in the fifth inning.

“Simplicity, not trying to do too much,” Bohm said of his recent success at the plate. “Seeing the ball over the plate and swinging at it. And the swing works as it should. I’ve been on time more often than not lately and I think that leads to success.

“You’re only as good as the courses you swing at. So keeping it simple and being on time are the two keys for me.”

Wheeler praised Bohm after the game.

“He’s a good, solid hitter,” the pitcher said. – He hits the ball well to the opposite field. He is very disciplined. These guys are tough to face just from experience, guys who can hit the ball to the opposite field. And he also shoots the gap for power, so it’s nice to have one of those guys on your team.”

Giving Wheeler a four-run lead in the second inning is like giving a hungry dog ​​a T-bone. He doesn’t give it up.

The right-hander went seven innings and allowed just three hits and two runs. He walked three and struck out eight. He didn’t allow a run until the seventh when he gave up a two-run homer to Cal Mitchell.

Over his last 16 starts, Wheeler has pitched 101 innings and allowed just 23 earned runs for a 2.05 ERA.

The funny thing is Wheeler said he’s been “off a tick” in his last couple of starts. He has given up just three runs in 14 innings in those starts. He should be very good when he figures out why he’s on his way.

“I couldn’t tell you,” he said of his minimal shortfall. “I’m trying to figure it out.”

The Phillies beat the Pirates, 15-7. Castellanos had three hits for the Phillies. Kyle Schwarber hit his league-leading 32nd homer.

A good way to start a series, except for the part about having to use your closer in what was a six-run game in the top of the ninth. Thomson didn’t worry. He said Dominguez would still be available Friday night.

Lefty Bailey Falter walks for the Phils in that one. Lefty Jose Quintana will pitch for the Pirates. The Phillies are looking to add starting pitching before Tuesday’s trade deadline. Quintana is very available and could be a potential fit for the Phillies.

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