Well, everyone saw this coming, right? The formerly 29-38 Phillies, heading to Atlanta to play against the formerly 36-32 Braves, not only won a game but swept the three game series. Not only that, but the series wasn’t even particularly close, with the Phillies outscoring the Braves 21-8.
I still would disagree with the idea that this team is “in the race” for anything at this point, and a four game set against a team who does more than strike out and employ Aaron Harang could be a wet blanket in the next few days.
However, as far as this game goes, the team deserves lots of praise in all areas. Starter Roberto Hernandez had a horrid first inning, allowing four runs to score and running up his pitch count early. He settled down after this, and managed to work through six innings in total, allowing one more run during that time.
Five runs isn’t good, but the fact that he was efficient enough to make it through six after the rocky start was good to see. Following him, Antonio Bastardo struck out two in the 7th, and Ken Giles finished his first game, striking out 3 and walking 1 in 2.0 IP.
From the offensive end of the spectrum, EVERYONE took their shot on Braves’ starter Aaron Harang. Every starting position player earned at least one hit, except for Reid Brignac who walked and recorded an RBI.
Yes, FIVE Phillies’ starters had three hits in this game. FIVE. Cesar Hernandez, Wil Nieves, Ryan Howard, Marlon Byrd, and Domonic Brown totaled 15 of the 18 hits for the Phillies, the largest total of the season.
While this production is welcome any time, this game feels to be more about Aaron Harang than the Phillies.
In his 5.0 IP, he allowed 13 hits, 4 BB, 4 K, and 9 R. He’s coming down from his early season highs, and the Phillies were not nearly as effective upon facing Braves’ relievers for 4.0 IP (5 H, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 R).
It’s always good to gain three games against a division rival, but the Braves have proven to be a paper tiger this season. A four game series against the St. Louis Cardinals is a real test, one I’m a fair bit less optimistic about.