Phillies-Braves 5 Things: Can Phils' Offense Stay Hot Vs. Groundball Machine Jaime Garcia? - NBC 10 Philadelphia

Phillies-Braves 5 Things: Can Phils' Offense Stay Hot Vs. Groundball Machine Jaime Garcia?

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    Phillies-Braves 5 Things: Can Phils' Offense Stay Hot Vs. Groundball Machine Jaime Garcia?
    CSNPhilly.com
    Phillies-Braves 5 things: Can Phils' offense stay hot vs. groundball machine Jaime Garcia?

    Phillies (20-35) at Braves (24-31)
    7:35 p.m. on CSN; streaming live on CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App

    After winning three games in a row and scoring 20 runs the last two days, it's safe to say the Phillies are over their putrid month of May. 

    This is their first three-game winning streak since they won six in a row from April 20-27, a stretch that included a sweep over the Braves.

    Can they keep it going tonight?

    1. Herrera hitting everything
    Odubel Herrera is 8 for 13 over his last three games and all eight have been extra-base hits - six doubles and two home runs. 

    He's the only player in the majors this season who has three straight games with multiple extra-base hits and multiple RBIs. 

    And he's tied with Bill Nicholson in 1953 for the longest such streak in recorded history by any Phillie.

    He's broken out of his slump in one of the most blatant ways possible. 

    These three days have lifted Herrera's batting average by 25 points and his slugging percentage by 77. He ended May batting .218/.262/.326 and is now at .243/.283/.403.

    He leads all major-league outfielders with 18 doubles and there's only one player at any position with more - Nolan Arenado with 19.

    Despite a very slow start, Herrera is on pace to finish with 53 doubles and 15 home runs, which would be 26 more extra-base hits than his career-high.

    The Phillies have needed every bit of it and it's been great to see from a player they're relying on so heavily.

    2. Not just Odubel
    Aaron Altherr and Tommy Joseph, who both slowed down after several torrid weeks, batted third and fourth Monday and combined to go 6 for 9 with two homers, a double and six RBIs. 

    For Altherr, it was his first home run in 21 games. He had hit .208 with four extra-base hits, three walks and 21 strikeouts from May 14 to June 4.

    Joseph had gone seven straight games without multiple hits. He's been homering lately with five in his last 67 plate appearances, but he's been close to invisible in the games he hasn't homered. In 18 games since May 18, Joseph has scored only one run that hasn't been the result of his own homer. 

    Over that same span, he's had only two run-scoring hits in a game in which he didn't homer.

    The problem for the Phillies' offense this season has been that they haven't had the entire top half of the order clicking simultaneously. When Cesar Hernandez and the assortment of players in the two-hole were piling up the base-hits in April, the Phillies' 3 and 4 hitters did nothing. Then Altherr and Joseph got hot just as Hernandez, Herrera and Franco were going cold and Howie Kendrick was on the DL.

    3. Nola tries to bounce back
    Aaron Nola had a very impressive return from the DL on May 21 in Pittsburgh, when he allowed one run on four hits over seven innings. 

    In two starts since, he's allowed nine runs on 11 hits in nine innings and his ERA has risen from 3.52 to 5.06.

    Nola lasted just three innings in Miami last week and needed 73 pitches to complete them. 

    "Seventy-three pitches in three innings - too many pitches for me," manager Pete Mackanin said after that loss. "I didn't want him to get hurt and end up throwing 100 pitches in four innings. So I just took him out."

    Makes sense to proceed with caution with Nola, who missed a month already this season with a back strain and about 12 starts last season with an elbow injury.

    But the same way the Phillies needed Herrera to get going, they need Nola to find a groove too. He's again been particularly susceptible to lefties, who have hit .288 with a .365 OBP this season. 

    Opponents have also gone 7 for 7 stealing bases with Nola in the game in his six starts. Only five stolen bases occurred with him in the game in 20 starts last season.

    Freddie Freeman has done by far the most damage of any Brave off Nola, which is good because Nola won't have to deal with him tonight. Freeman is out until the All-Star break with a broken wrist.

    Active Braves have gone 9 for 49 (.184) against Nola with a double and two homers, both by Nick Markakis.

    4. Another familiar vet
    After knocking around 44-year-old Bartolo Colon last night, the Phillies face left-hander Jaime Garcia, who seems much closer to 40 than his actual age of 30.

    Garcia debuted with the Cardinals back in 2008 when he was just 21. Since then, he's faced the Phillies 11 times in the regular season and once in the playoffs. 

    In the 11 regular-season starts, he's gone 3-4 with a 2.84 ERA and allowed just two home runs in 57 innings. That was against some really good Phillies teams, too.

    In two starts against the Phils the last two seasons, he's allowed two runs and eight baserunners in 13 innings with 13 strikeouts. 

    Current Phils are 7 for 43 (.163) off Garcia and only Herrera has multiple hits. Freddy Galvis is 0 for 11. Aaron Altherr has the only extra-base hit, a double.

    Garcia is coming off three dominant starts. Against the Nationals, Giants and Angels, he allowed one earned run in 21⅔ innings to lower his ERA from 4.65 to 3.18. He induced 47 groundballs in the three games.

    5. This and that
    • It's supposed to rain in Atlanta from 4-6 p.m. tonight but the chance of precipitation drops to 15 percent at game time.

    • Maikel Franco was the only Phillies position player without a hit last night. He went 0 for 5 and is hitting .218/.270/.363.

    • Ender Inciarte continued his recent tear out of the leadoff spot for Atlanta last night, going 2 for 3 with two walks. But with the Braves lacking a run producer other than Matt Kemp right now, it hasn't meant a ton. He's reached base 46 times over the Braves' last 22 games but has been stranded 31 times.