Phillies vs. Cardinals: Rhys Hoskins, JT Realmuto homer, Zack Wheeler defeats Adam Wainwright

The Phillies faced off between veteran veteran right-handers on Sunday Night Baseball, beating the Cardinals 4-0 to win a key series against the team they’re after for the final playoff spot in the National League.

Zack Wheeler defeated Adam Wainwright by seven scoreless innings before a crowd of 44,225, the Phillies’ second sell-off of the season. Wheeler had 94 pitches in six innings, but was out for seventh as the sixth was his fastest inning and the Phillies had to go in on him. All three Seranthony Dominguez, Brad Hand and Jose Alvarado had been used two days in a row, so it was important for Wheeler to be able to finish seventh.

“You kind of have an idea and you hear that certain guys are down,” Wheeler said. “My goal was to get out there and go deep into the game. The number of pitches went up, I knew I had to get weak contact as I went through and I was able to do that.”

The Phillies are 7-2 in their last nine series, holding a 42-38 record one game before the official midpoint of their season. They trail St. Louis by 1½ games for the final NL wildcard spot after two out of three this weekend. The teams will meet again next weekend for a series of four games.

Rhys Hoskins put the Phils on the board with a solo homerun in the fourth inning, his 17th. He then led off the sixth with a double and scored on Nick Castellanos’ single to shallow left-center. JT Realmuto followed two batters later with a two-run shot.

In his last 25 games, Hoskins has hit .341/.443/.750 with 7 doubles, 9 homers and 17 RBI. He also made a dive stop in Sunday’s eighth inning for an out that would otherwise have resulted in two Cardinals boarding for the top of the order against Nick Nelson.

“It’s a big win in the series,” Hoskins said. “We haven’t played much of the Central so far and to be able to get there now with a series win, a series win against the Brewers, the top two teams, it’s always a good sign as a yardstick.”

Wheeler wasn’t quite on his sharpest early on, putting one man on base in each of the first five innings and hitting fewer strikers than usual. But he was stingy out of the piece, allowing only one of those runners to get into scoring position. He was at his best in his last two frames, retiring the last nine batters he faced to improve to 7-4 with a 2.66 ERA.

It was a nice kickback after two starts under Wheeler’s standard. He went deep twice and gave up three runs in 6⅓ innings on Tuesday against the Braves and put 10 on base in just 4⅓ the week before in Texas. Those outings came after he went 6-0 from April 28 through June 22 with a 1.40 ERA in nine starts.

“I faced him and it’s a very, very awkward at bat,” Hoskins said of his teammate. “You know exactly what you are going to get. He will most likely go deep into the game and there will be some soft contact.”

The Phillies are off Monday, July 4. With the exception of the shortened seasons in 2020 and 1981, it will be their first scheduled July 4 off-day since 1916.

They will pick up again on Tuesday with the Nationals, who may be without their best player after Juan Soto left Sunday’s game with a tight fibula. The Phils have won four out of five against the Nats this season, who are 6-26 against NL East.

Leave a Comment