The Philadelphia Phillies won for the fourth time in their last five games following an 0-4 start to the 2016 season.
On a beautiful early April night at Citizens Bank Park, the Phils got yet another tremendous outing from a member of their starting rotation to key a 2-1 victory over the San Diego Padres.
Right-hander Jerad Eickhoff, who I named back in the beginning of spring training as the one player who I was most interested in watching during this season, came out firing and never let up, earning his first win of the year with a true gem.
Eickhoff (1-1) allowed just four hits over seven innings, striking out nine and walking no one. His curveball was dancing all night, consistently fooling the Padres’ hitters. He wound up throwing 64 strikes over 96 pitches, not quite Nola-esque, but not bad either.
“I can’t say enough good things about him tonight,” said manager Pete Mackanin in his postgame presser. “He was in total command for the entire time that he was in that game. Outstanding curve ball, located everything well. Went to his slider a few times. Nothing but superlatives for him today.”
As has been the case most of the year thus far, the 25-year old did not receive much offensive support from his teammates. With two outs in the bottom of the 1st inning, Maikel Franco crushed his 2nd home run of the season, a solo shot that put the Phillies on top by 1-0 early off Padres’ starter Colin Rea.
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Rea had a nice evening himself, scattering five hits over seven innings with five strikeouts, walking two batters. Franco would get to him again to produce the Phils’ 2nd run in the bottom of the 3rd inning, doubling with two outs to score Odubel Herrera, who had singled in front of him.
That 2-0 lead was held first by David Hernandez on in relief in the 8th inning. He loaded the bases on a single, an error, and a walk, but struck out the side swinging to maintain the lead.
In the 9th, new closer Jeanmar Gomez came on and retired the first two San Diego batters easily. But on the verge of the save, he walked Derek Norris, who then advanced to 2nd base on a defensive indifference call. When pinch-hitter Brett Wallace rolled a clean single, Norris scored, and it was a 2-1 game.
But Gomez remained typically calm and cool. He next got another pinch-hitter, Alexei Ramirez, to pop out to shortstop on a 1-2 pitch, nailing down his 4th save and Eickhoff’s first victory.
On the early success of his rotation, Mackanin seemed a bit effusive, though he tried to remain practical as well. “It’s been very impressive. I don’t see any reason why we won’t continue to pitch well, for the most part, for the entire season if these guys stay healthy. They’ve all shown the ability to command all their stuff, and mix up their pitches, and keep hitters off balance.”
The Phillies will now try to even up their record and win their 2nd consecutive series in a matinée game on Thursday afternoon.