The Philadelphia Phillies once again were impressive in their Sunday matinee, defeating the Atlanta Braves 2-1 to secure an opening series sweep of their division rival.
Offense from Andrew Knapp and Alec Bohm — and clutch pitching from Zach Eflin, Jose Alvarado, and Hector Neris — was all the team needed to improve to 3-0 on the season.
The Phillies have swept the Braves to start a season for the 2nd time in the last 3 years.
Thanks to solid pitching from No. 3 starter Eflin, the Phillies carried a 1-0 lead all the way through two outs in the top of the seventh inning — following a second-inning solo home run off the bat of backup catcher Knapp.
Eflin made just one bad pitch the whole afternoon, allowing a solo home run in the seventh to former Phillies catcher prospect Travis d’Arnaud. He finished the afternoon with seven innings pitched, and just four hits, one run, and one walk surrendered. Also, the right-hander struck out one-third (8) of his 24 batters faced.
After a shutdown inning from southpaw Alvarado, who needed just 10 pitches to retire his three batters faced in order, the Phillies put together a rally opposite Braves right-hander Chris Martin in the bottom of the eighth.
Rhys Hoskins and Bryce Harper both got on base with one-out singles to left field. Then, Bohm produced what would be the eventual game-winning hit with a RBI single to center field, giving the Phillies a 2-1 lead. The hit marked Bohm’s 20th base knock through 45 career at-bats with runners in scoring, good for an impressive .444 batting average, according to Jonny Heller.
While Neris allowed two walks in the bottom of the ninth, he still prevented the Braves from scoring to secure the save.
"Last 5 Phillies Series Sweeps to Open Season2021, vs. Atlanta Braves2019, vs. Atlanta Braves2011, vs. Houston Astros2001, at Florida Marlins1994, at Colorado Rockies"
Both the Phillies starting pitching and bullpen all contributed in the sweep of the Braves. Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, and Eflin combined to throw 20 2/3 innings over the three-game series, allowing only 11 hits, three runs (two home runs), and one walk, while striking out 24 batters. Their combined ERA and WHIP were an impressive 1.31 and 0.581, respectively.
As far as the bullpen, manager Joe Girardi used just four different relievers — Alvarado, Neris, Archie Bradley and Connor Brogdon. On Sunday, Alvarado and Neris combined to toss two scoreless innings in relief of Eflin, allowing only two walks and no hits while striking out three.
Overall, the group of four threw 7 1/3 scoreless innings and faced 27 batters in the series, yielding only one hit and four walks while striking out 11.
The Phillies will now welcome the New York Mets to Citizens Bank Park for a three-game series, before an off day on Thursday. The Mets have yet to play a game this season due to their series against the Washington Nationals being postponed due to COVID-19 contact tracing protocols.