PHILADELPHIA (AP)Zack Wheeler collected more hits than he allowed Saturday.
That’s a good recipe for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Wheeler struck out 10 while pitching seven innings of one-hit ball, leading the Phillies to a 4-0 win over the Atlanta Braves.
Wheeler retired his final 17 batters after Travis d’Arnaud singled with one out in the second. He also singled in Jean Segura in the fifth and doubled home Alec Bohm in the sixth.
Wheeler mixed a fastball that reached the high 90s with a sinker that had the Braves off balance. The 10 strikeouts were the most by Wheeler since signing with the Phillies in December 2019.
”When you have everything working – fastball, change, curve, slider – and you are placing it where you want to, it makes things a lot easier,” Wheeler said.
”That’s as good as I’ve seen him,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. ”That was a rough day trying to hit (Wheeler).”
Wheeler’s strong start – teamed with Aaron Nola’s solid outing in Philadelphia’s victory on opening day – highlights the potential for the top of the Phillies’ rotation.
”I don’t know if you can say enough great things about what (Wheeler) did today,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said. ”He threw some good changeups late in the game. It’s as good as his stuff has been.”
Archie Bradley and Hector Neris each worked a perfect inning after Wheeler (1-0) departed. It marked back-to-back scoreless outings for Philadelphia’s bullpen, which posted a historically inept 7.06 ERA in 2020.
Wheeler put the Phillies ahead to stay with his run-scoring single in the fifth against Charlie Morton (0-1). Andrew McCutchen then walked and Rhys Hoskins made it 3-0 with a two-run double.
Wheeler is the first Phillies pitcher with multiple hits and RBIs in a game since Ben Lively on Sept. 5, 2017. He was allowed back in the box after the National League reverted back to letting pitchers hit this year. The designated hitter was used in both leagues for the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.
”I had one at-bat in the spring before we got shut down (in spring 2020) and one this spring,” Wheeler said. ”But we’re hitting a lot in the cage. As a pitcher, you are going to see a fastball. You just have to be able to hit it.”
Morton allowed six hits, struck out five and walked two in five innings. He permitted each of his three runs in the fifth, a rally that started with a two-out single by Segura and Roman Quinn reaching when he was hit by a pitch.
”That two-strike curveball to Segura wasn’t a well-executed pitch, especially to an aggressive hitter,” Morton said. ”The Wheeler hit, I couldn’t believe he got to that. I just have to do a better job on a two-strike count. The guys did a great job behind me, but I kind of squandered it there.”
Braves: INF Ehire Adrianza was placed on the 10-day injured list as part of Major League Baseball’s health and safety protocols. Manager Brian Snitker said Adrianza had to leave the club during Friday’s off day to deal with a personal issue. He has to go through MLB’s testing protocols before he can rejoin the club. INF Johan Camargo was called up off Atlanta’s taxi squad.
Phillies: OF Adam Haseley was available after he was pulled early from Thursday’s opener after experiencing hamstring tightness. Girardi said Haseley is expected to start Sunday’s series finale.
The series concludes Sunday afternoon with the Phillies sending right-hander Zach Eflin to the mound against Braves right-hander Ian Anderson. Eflin went 4-2 with a 3.97 ERA for Philadelphia in 2020. Anderson went 3-2 with a 1.95 ERA in six starts last year.
It will be Anderson’s first start against the Phillies, who bypassed him with the top selection in the 2016 amateur draft to pick outfielder Mickey Moniak.
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