Phillies, Zack Wheeler blank Brewers in tensest sweep ever

Zack Wheeler #45 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Zack Wheeler #45 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /
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The Philadelphia Phillies completed a four-game sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers Thursday afternoon behind Zack Wheeler‘s second-career complete game shutout.

Offensive sparks from Rhys Hoskins, Didi Gregorius, and Alec Bohm powered the Phillies in the absence of the injured Bryce Harper. A hectic shuffle in bullpen usage amid the suspension of Jose Alvarado kept fans on the edge of their seats, but the sweep has propelled the Phillies into first place.

The first-place Phillies complete a feat for the first time since 2008.

The series was one of the most strenuous and nerve-wracking that Phillies fans will ever see. The first three wins were all one-run games that followed remarkably similar game flows. The fourth was no less exciting.

The four-game stretch leaves question marks about which relievers will be trusted by manager Joe Girardi moving forward and why the Phillies offense seems to disappear after the first three innings.

Game 1 — Phillies 4, Brewers 3

The Phillies were fortunate to get a solid start from Vince Velasquez and held a 4-1 lead after the seventh inning. However, a shaky start to the eighth inning from Connor Brogdon forced Girardi to go to closer Hector Neris in hopes of a five-out save.

Neris loaded the bases in an unconvincing outing, but he ultimately held the one-run lead and improved his ERA to 1.88 on the season.

Game 2 — Phillies 6, Brewers 5

Brad Miller‘s three-run homer in the third inning put the Phils ahead 6-1, but the offense went silent for the rest of the night. Aaron Nola struggled somewhat with efficiency in his pitch count but still delivered a good outing, finishing with one earned run in six innings of work.

Nola’s exit spelled trouble for a depleted bullpen in need of rest. David Hale allowed three runs without recording an out to begin the seventh inning. The Brewers rally ultimately fell short thanks to another five-out save — this time from Sam Coonrod.

Game 3 — Phillies 5, Brewers 4

The first five batters of the game scored for the Phillies, highlighted by Gregorius‘ eighth-career grand slam into the right field seats.

However, the Phils allowed the Brewers to chip away as their own bats went silent yet again. Brandon Kintzler, Matt Moore, Enyel De Los Santos, and Alvarado combined for four scoreless innings in relief for a tightly contested 5-4 victory.

Game 4 — Phillies 2, Brewers 0

Thursday afternoon’s finale was the cleanest victory, as Wheeler held the Brewers to three hits and struck out eight in the shutout. He didn’t, however, eliminate the drama for fans. He stranded two men in the ninth inning, bringing Milwaukee’s series total for runners left on base during the ninth inning to eight.

The Phils got clutch hitting from Bohm, whose solo homer in the seventh chased Brewers ace Brandon Woodruff out of the game despite a dominant effort for most of the afternoon. Hoskins drove in a key insurance run in the eighth to relieve some of the pressure and end a streak of seven consecutive one-run games. The defense, led by Gregorius, provided the type of competent play behind Wheeler that has been lacking in recent weeks.

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