The Philadelphia Phillies were excelling in almost every way heading into the All-Star break.
The Phillies won five of their last seven games en route to capturing consecutive series on the road against the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox. They scored 60 runs in the seven games and clawed back to .500 on the season.
The goal now is to keep the momentum going when they open the second half of the season with a doubleheader against the visiting Miami Marlins on Friday.
“Extremely proud,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said. “I’ve said all along that this is a resilient group. We’ve probably had as many tough losses as any team in baseball. We have found a way. Two weeks ago, we were in kind of a nightmarish week. The last 10 days we’ve played extremely well.”
On Sunday, four Phillies were placed on the COVID-related injury list because of contact tracing. Alec Bohm tested positive and will be sidelined for this doubleheader.
Left-hander Matt Moore (0-1, 5.40 ERA) is scheduled to start the opener for the Phillies, while right-hander Zach Eflin will get the nod for the nightcap.
Moore owns a 2-2 record with a 4.71 ERA in seven career appearances (six starts) against the Marlins.
Eflin (4-6, 3.88) is 5-5 with a 4.38 ERA in 12 career starts vs. Miami.
The Phillies struggled with blown saves through the first half of the season, but they might have found a closer in Ranger Suarez. He has two saves this season, including a seven-out save in Philadelphia’s 5-4 victory over Boston on Sunday.
“There have been some unsung heroes with this team, and Ranger is definitely one of them,” Girardi said.
The Marlins scuffled through the first half with a 39-50 record; however, they posted a 7-4 win over the Atlanta Braves on Sunday thanks in large part to a stellar performance by right-hander Pablo Lopez.
Lopez (5-5, 3.03) is expected to start one game in Friday’s doubleheader. He’s 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA in five career starts against the Phillies.
Lopez set a major league record by striking out the first nine batters he faced on Sunday. The performance occurred on the one-year anniversary of his father, Danny, passing away from a heart attack.
“I woke up today very emotional — a lot of mixed feelings, a lot of sad moments here and there, but when the game starts, once you get in between those lines, it’s all about executing,” Lopez said. “I know he was somewhere watching, and I know that he’s been there with me ever since he passed away a year ago. I just try to make him proud, making sure that I’m still doing the things he taught me, the way he taught me, and just trying to do the right thing the right way.”
Right-hander Sandy Alcantara (5-8, 3.09), the Marlins’ other projected starter, is 5-2 with a 2.41 ERA in eight career starts versus the Phillies.
“I think we feel like we’ve got pitching that’s going to keep us in a lot of games, and we’re starting to show some offense,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “We still lack that consistency. You take three out of four from the Dodgers and hate the fact that Atlanta comes in and gets you for two out of three. The thing that gives us hope is we know that pitching keeps us in every night.”
–Field Level Media