Even without Bryce Harper, the Philadelphia Phillies are proving they have power up and down the lineup.
They also showed the ability to play situational baseball on Friday, something they hope will continue when their three-game series against the visiting St. Louis Cardinals continues on Saturday.
Rhys Hoskins and Darick Hall each homered and the Phillies moved runners and executed throughout the whole game during a 5-3 win over the Cardinals in the series opener.
“It’s good baseball,” Hoskins said on a postgame interview on NBC Sports Philadelphia after adding a clutch sacrifice fly and drawing two walks. “It’s the type of stuff that will get us to October.”
The Phillies, who haven’t reached the playoffs since 2011, will look for their third consecutive on Saturday.
Since Harper is expected to be sidelined for a minimum of six weeks following surgery on his left thumb, Hall will likely continue to receive key at-bats.
Hall, 26, now has three home runs in his past two games, his only hits through the first three games of his major league career.
“It’s been big, putting him right in the middle of that order,” interim manager Rob Thomson said. “He’s having fun.”
The Phillies’ bullpen was stellar on Friday as five relievers combined to toss five shutout innings and strike out 10.
“I think they’re pitching to the level that we expect,” Thomson said. “Now they’ve got their confidence back. We’re at the point where we trust everybody.”
The Phillies will hand the ball Saturday to Kyle Gibson (4-3, 4.48 ERA). The right-hander lost his lone career start against the Cardinals, but it occurred back in 2015. In that outing, Gibson threw six innings and allowed six hits and three runs.
The Cardinals will aim to avoid a three-game losing streak on Saturday, but Nolan Arenado will hope to extend his positive momentum after hitting for the second cycle of his career on Friday. It was also the 17th cycle in the history of the Cardinals and the first since 2005.
“It’s still special for sure,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “Obviously, he’d rather have the win, but it’s still special to be able to do that. It’s hard to come by. He had a good night at the plate for sure.”
Arenado tripled in the first inning, hit a two-run home run in the third, doubled in the sixth and singled in the eighth. Still, he was unable to truly celebrate since the Cardinals weren’t able to hold a 3-0 lead.
“It hasn’t really hit me yet that I did it because the game didn’t turn out the way we wanted,” Arenado said. “I’ll enjoy it when I get back to my room and probably call my mom. But we want to win ballgames. I’d rather win.”
The Cardinals still struck out 15 times and struggled mostly against the Philadelphia relief corps.
“They’ve got some good swing-and-miss in that bullpen for sure,” Marmol said. “Tough night.”
The Cardinals are expected to recall Matthew Liberatore (2-1, 4.00 ERA) from the minors to start on Saturday. The left-hander, who has never faced the Phillies, last pitched in the majors on June 14, when he shut out the Pittsburgh Pirates for five innings. He is 4-3 with a 4.03 ERA in 10 starts for Triple-A Memphis.
–Field Level Media