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May 26, 2024

Phillies do just enough to hold off Giants, stay hottest team in baseball

Phillies do just enough to hold off Giants, stay hottest team in baseball

The Phillies still had some gas left in the tank after putting up 14 runs Saturday night against the Giants.

And by some, I mean more than enough.

It wasn’t an offensive explosion (you can’t have those every night), but the long ball and Taijuan Walker’s outing was just enough for a 5-4 victory over the Giants.

The Phillies improve to 24-11, still holding the best record in baseball. Even during 2011, the best single-season record in franchise history with 102 wins, the Phillies didn’t reach 24 wins until May 11. They’ve now won five in a row, nine consecutive at home and are 9-1 in their last 10.

And as for being 13 games over .500? Last year they didn’t reach that mark until August 11, when they were 65-52 … and nearly 10 games out of first in the NL East.

“I think it gives them a lot of confidence, number one,” Manager Rob Thomson said on his club’s efficiency this early in the season. “Now, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish and we gotta make sure that we keep people healthy.

“I think that just the awareness of the last couple years, not really getting hot until June just motivates people. I think our guys have done a really good job.”

Philadelphia Phillies

The most important takeaway from all of this? They continue finding ways to win.

The Giants struck early when Michael Conforto doubled in the first inning to score LaMonte Wade. This isn’t something that has happened often for the Phillies this season. It was just the third time in the past 15 games where the Phillies didn’t score first.

They soon erased the Giants’ lead after a flurry of peculiar events. A routine ground ball to shortstop Nick Ahmed turned into Alec Bohm reaching second base on a throwing error. Bohm made his way to third when Brandon Marsh grounded out and eventually scored on Edmundo Sosa’s infield single. While it was a soft ground ball, Sosa’s bat splintered across the infield and was a factor in the play. Sometimes that’s just how it goes.

After coming off paternity leave during the 10-game road trip and hitting home runs in back-to-back games in Cincinnati and San Diego, Bryce Harper went seven straight without going yard. That changed in the third inning when Harper launched a ball 410 ft. to deep right center for a three-run shot. It was Harper’s seventh of the season.

“As an offense, I think we had a pretty good plan tonight against [Logan] Webb,” Harper said following the win. “You know, he’s really good out there trying to keep the ball down and getting the ground balls that he does. So, thought as a team, collectively we had a really good plan.

“(Walker) went out there and threw the baseball really well. Our starting pitching has been obviously really, really good. So, anytime we can get some runs up there on the board for him, we have a really good chance to win.”

For as many runs as the Phillies scored Saturday, it was the perfect example of how small ball can also win them games. This roster, heavily constructed for long ball, can flip whatever switch they need, when they need it, to get the job done.

Walker allowed the one run in the first inning, then went five scoreless before letting up a two-run home run to Thairo Estrada. It’s the second consecutive start for Walker where he has allowed a home run after going six and a third innings.

Still, Walker punched out seven on the evening and did enough to earn his second win of the season during his 200th career game in the majors.

“Second time going through getting into the seventh inning,” Walker said. “Obviously, I really want to finish that one, especially after the last start. So, I really wanted it, but I feel like my location was really well today. All my pitches, my splitter was better today than my last start.

“It was nice. It makes it so much easier when the offense is putting up runs like that.”

And don’t worry, the streak lives to see another day. Alec Bohm doubled in the seventh inning to extend his hitting streak to 18 games, the longest of his career. He passes Braves’ Marcell Ozuna (17 games) for the longest hitting streak in MLB this season.

The Phillies will go for their fourth sweep of the season (Rockies, White Sox, Padres) Monday afternoon against the Giants. Zack Wheeler will take the mound on his regular five days rest and is set to face Mason Black in his MLB debut.

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