The Phillies bounced back in a big way after being swept by the Cubs last weekend, and are right in the thick of the N.L. Wild Card race after a four-game sweep of the Pirates at PNC Park. They did so thanks to strong starting pitching, and some red-hot bats, accomplishing feats, some of which haven’t been seen in more than a half-century.
Taking it back to the '60s
The Phillies’ weekend sweep was the franchise’s first four-game takedown of the Pirates in Pittsburgh since July 11-13, 1968 at Forbes Field. The Phils’ winning pitchers in that series were Larry Jackson (6-hit shutout), Chris Short, Jeff James… and Chris Short again. Short pitched seven innings to win the second game of a doubleheader on Thursday, then came on in relief of a 16-inning game to pitch the final three innings, on one day’s rest.
Despite his first round exit in the Home Run Derby, Kyle Schwarber continues his prolific pace of mashing home runs. He hit a 3-run shot Thursday, and added a 441-foot solo blast to help put Sunday’s game on ice. He has 33 home runs already this season. Only Mike Schmidt (36 in 1979) and Ryan Howard (35 in 2006) have hit more for the Phillies in a season prior to August 1st.
Nola in control
Aaron Nola pitched six strong innings to get the win Sunday, striking out eight with just one walk. How good has he been this season? That 8:1 K/BB line actually brought his ratio for the season down. Nola’s K/BB ratio for the season is 8.44 far away the best for any Phillies pitcher in a season where he threw at least 125 innings. Cliff Lee is the next best, with a 7.39 ratio back in 2012. In fact, Nola’s current ratio ranks 8th in major league history.
Nola is also having another historical season when it comes to allowing baserunners, or rather, not allowing baserunners. After Sunday’s gem his WHIP is down to 0.94. That ranks second in franchise history among pitchers, behind only Hall of Famer Pete Alexander, who posted a 0.84 WHIP in 1915.
The Phillies got big games from a number of players at the plate. Rhys Hoskins carried the offense Friday with his first career 4-hit game, and Alec Bohm (more on him to come) and Nick Castellanos(!) each had a 4-hit game in Sunday’s finale. It was the first time the Phillies had three different players post a 4-hit game in the same series since July of 2007, when Chase Utley, Aaron Rowand, and Greg Dobbs turned the trick against the Cardinals.
Now to the man of the moment, and the Phillies hottest hitter, Alec Bohm. As mentioned, he closed out July with a flourish, a 4-hit game including a home run. Bohm his .434 for the month, the highest batting average for a Phillies player in a single month (minimum 60 PA) since Pat Burrell hit .435 in 2007.
Bohm’s big day at the plate Sunday closed out an 8-game stretch where he amassed 18 hits. He’s the first Phillies player to get that many hits in an 8-game span since Shane Victorino in September of 2008.
The Phillies finished out July with a 15-10 record, after a blistering 19-8 record in June. The last time the Phillies posted winning records in both June and July in the same season was back in 2011, the last season of their five-year run of consecutive N.L. East titles.