Phillies: Zach Eflin throws Game 1 gem vs. Blue Jays
By Matt Rappa
Zach Eflin going the distance in Game 1 of Friday’s doubleheader was exactly what the starting pitching-depleted Phillies team needed.
For a Philadelphia Phillies bullpen that entered Friday’s doubleheader against the Toronto Blue Jays with a Major League Baseball-worst 7.17 ERA, RHP Zach Eflin‘s Game 1 complete game shutout — coupled with a convincing 7-0 win — was exactly what the postseason-hopeful team needed.
And, for a team with starting pitchers Jake Arrieta and Spencer Howard sidelined due to injuries, Eflin’s shutout could not have come at a more opportune time.
The five-year veteran needed just 92 pitches to get through seven shutout innings en route to his third career complete game shutout — the previous coming on May 11 against the Kansas City Royals, also a 7-0 victory.
Of the right-hander’s 25 batters faced, Eflin tossed 16 first-pitch strikes. He yielded just four singles and two walks, while striking out nine batters. Thirteen of his 59 thrown strikes were swinging strikes.
According to Rob Maadi, Eflin is just the fourth Phillies starting pitcher with three or more shutouts since 2004, joining Cliff Lee (8), Cole Hamels (7) and the late Roy Halladay (5).
In earning his third win of the season, Eflin benefited from the bat of Bryce Harper, who homered for the third time in the last two games. The other runs scored via Phil Gosselin and Alec Bohm RBI singles, a Didi Gregorius RBI double, and an Andrew Knapp two-RBI triple.
The Phillies are now back at the .500 mark — 25-25 on the season. With just 10 games remaining across their 60-game slate, the team remains in postseason contention as it looks to qualify for the first time since the 2011 season. Manager Joe Girardi‘s squad will start RHP David Hale in Game 2, a bullpen game; they will go for their first doubleheader sweep since September 2012.