Phillies extend winning streak to 9 games behind Zack Wheeler


Phillies extend winning streak to 9 games behind Zack Wheeler

The Phillies had two sets of momentum on their side Saturday.

Numero uno was obviously the eight-game winning streak that carried them into middle competition of a three-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Numero dos was the man on the pitcher’s mound.

Zack Wheeler continued his recent streak of dominance by leading the habanero-hot Phillies to a 4-0 win over the Diamondbacks.

The win was the ninth straight for the Phillies and the longest since the team had nine straight wins in 2011 en route to a club record 102 wins. (The team record for most consecutive wins is 13, most recently in 1991.)

Saturday’s win improved manager Rob Thomson to 8-0 since taking over from Joe Girardi when the team was 22-29. At 30-29, the Phils are above .500 for the first time in five days of the season and they are 3-2.

What an amazing ride that was with lots of wins, lots of power — the Phils hit 22 homers during their nine-game winning streak — and plenty of good pitching starts.

“Everything is going pretty well,” said Thomson. “We just have to keep going.

“We’re down to .500. Now shoot 5 overs. When we get there, shoot 10 over.”

Wheeler had an early run on a first-inning double from Rhys Hoskins and an RBI single from Nick Castellanos.

An inning later, rookie Bryson Stott hit his fourth homer in his last eight games, a two-run shot to the right to give the Phils a 3-0 lead.

Wheeler and the bullpen brought it to a halt.

“He was progressing, his stuff was good, he was Zack,” Thomson said of Wheeler, who came into the game with a 1.61 ERA in his last seven starts.

The right-hander continued his dominance with six shutout innings. He gave up two shots, missed none, hit eight and broke a couple of bats. All in all, another good day for Wheeler, who did not accompany the team to Milwaukee during the week as he and wife Dominique welcomed a daughter, Bambi.

Back in Philadelphia with his family, Wheeler said he was fascinated to follow his teammates and their winning streak.

“I was just hoping it would come back to me and I could keep it going,” he said. “We did that.”

In his last eight starts, Wheeler has given up just eight earned runs in 51⅔ innings for a 1.39 ERA. He has recorded 64 strikeouts and has walked only 11 over that span.

In seven starts at Citizens Bank Park this season, Wheeler has given up seven earned runs in 42⅓ innings for a 1.49 ERA.

He rides a 34 innings scoreless streak at home.

Wheeler was out on 98 pitches after six innings and the bullpen protected the lead. Right-hander Andrew Bellatti made the most of the game after the Diamondbacks loaded the bases with three two-out singles against Jeurys Familia.

With the tension mounting and a huge winning streak at stake, Bellatti came on and knocked out switch hitter Ketel Marte with a flyball into midfield to end the threat.

“It was quite an intense situation and I enjoyed it,” said Bellatti.

Seranthony Dominguez wasn’t available after serving two days in a row, so Thomson went to Bellatti.

“You have to do that,” Thomson said. “It’s the next man, if someone’s down and he’s done it, has a big hit.”

Brad Hand threw a scoreless eighth inning and Cristopher Sanchez grabbed the last three outs after the Phils took the lead to 4-0 and Corey Knebel went down with a stiff shoulder while warming up in the bullpen.

Thomson is only the second Phillies coach to start his career 8-0, alongside Pat Moran of the 1915 NL champion Phils. He is the first big league manager to begin a career with eight straight wins since the Red Sox’s Joe Morgan in 1988. Morgan succeeded John McNamara midseason and won his first 12 games.

In Boston they called it Morgan Magic.

Torrid Thomson makes the right decisions. Bellatti made him look good in the seventh. And Matt Vierling made six plays (and hit a pop-up) in his very first (and we mean). ever) play on second base.

“The ball will find you,” joked Vierling after the game. “I kind of thought it would hit me hard.”


“Yes, but after the first it kind of went away – then they moved on,” he said.

The Phils are targeting a third straight sweep and 10 straight wins with Ranger Suarez at the mound on Sunday.

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