The Philadelphia Phillies are riding high on the strength of a nine-game winning streak, their longest such run since the 2011 team won nine in a row on its way to a club-record 102-win season.
The red-hot Phillies look to continue their winning ways and complete their third straight series sweep on Sunday afternoon when they conclude their three-game set against the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks. Should Philadelphia emerge victorious for a 10th consecutive time, it will be the team’s longest winning streak since 2009.
“When you’re going good … you get some breaks,” said Rob Thomson, who improved to 8-0 as the Phillies’ interim manager since replacing Joe Girardi. “Everything is going along pretty good right now and we have to keep it going.”
Thomson is the first manager to win his first eight games since Hall of Famer Joe Morgan accomplished the feat with the Boston Red Sox in 1988.
Philadelphia has flexed its muscles with 22 homers during its winning streak, including rookie Bryson Stott’s two-run shot in Saturday’s 4-0 romp. Stott is heating up after a slow start, going 11-for-33 with four homers, 11 RBIs and 12 runs in nine games this month.
“The biggest thing with young guys is you have to be patient,” Nick Castellanos told NBC Sports Philadelphia. “It’s the highest level of baseball there is, it’s the fastest the game is gonna get. That takes time to get used to.”
Castellanos had an RBI single in the first inning and an RBI double in the eighth inning on Saturday.
Bryce Harper is 13-for-30 with five homers, 13 RBIs with 10 runs this month, while Rhys Hoskins is 9-for-22 with three homers, four RBIs and five runs during his five-game hitting streak.
For all of the team’s positives, there is cause for some concern in the City of Brotherly Love. Closer Corey Knebel felt tightness in his shoulder while warming up prior to the ninth inning on Saturday. Thomson said Knebel will be evaluated on Sunday.
As for which pitcher will get the start for the Phillies on Sunday, that honor goes to left-hander Ranger Suarez (4-3, 4.42 ERA)
Suarez, 26, saw his winless stretch extend to four outings on Tuesday despite allowing just two runs on six hits in seven innings in a no-decision at Milwaukee.
Suarez owns a 1-2 record with a 6.46 ERA in five career appearances (two starts) against Arizona.
The Diamondbacks certainly can use a jolt to their offense. They have been shut out three times while going 3-6 on their 10-game road trip.
Alek Thomas, who had two of his team’s six hits on Saturday, is 5-for-13 with two RBIs and three runs during his four-game hitting streak. Thomas can play all three outfield positions for Arizona, which now finds itself with considerable depth out there.
“All I know is we’ve got a really good situation,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “We’ve got a lot of good, young outfielders who are chasing down baseballs out there. Not a lot is going to drop in the outfield.”
Left-hander Kyle Nelson (1-0, 2.04) will start for Arizona as the opener. In 19 games this season, he hasn’t pitched more than two innings. He faced one batter and recorded an out on Friday night in his only career appearance against the Diamondbacks.
–Field Level Media