Rob Thomson was a little delayed getting to his first postgame news conference as a big-league manager Friday night.
That's because the Phillies played one of their best games of the season in scoring a 10-0 win over the Los Angeles Angels and, when it was over, the players wanted to give their new skipper a little toast.
Kyle Schwarber said a few words in the clubhouse and everyone raised a cold adult beverage to Thomson, the 58-year-old baseball lifer who got his first shot to manage when Joe Girardi was fired earlier in the day.
"We had a little celebration and it was good," said Thomson, sounding like he'd rather not talk about it.
It was an emotional day for the Phillies with Girardi being let go and Thomson moving up from bench coach to lead the club on an interim basis.
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If the Phils keep hitting five home runs a night and getting the kind of pitching they got from Zach Eflin, Thomson could lose the interim tag someday.
But that's getting way ahead of the game. For now, the Phils need to keep winning and chipping away at the huge deficit they are facing in the NL East and the league's wild-card race. There are 110 games left. They are 23-29.
"It's a sad day," Eflin said. "Joe is a great man and he did a lot of really good things for us. Not only is he a great man, he's a great baseball man. But at the end of day, we have to play hard every night. This group knows that. We're extremely happy for Thoms, getting him a win. We're looking forward to carrying this momentum into the next game."
Maybe Girardi's firing shocked the club. Maybe it was just one of those nights. Whatever the case, the Phillies, often a poor defensive team, made two eye-popping plays in the field, got big hits at the plate and sensational pitching from Eflin, who delivered eight shutout innings against an Angels club that has hit tough times with nine straight losses.
"Our offense kept putting up runs and I kept putting up zeroes," Eflin said. "We were kind of feeding off each other."
"It was a great day in all facets of the game," said Schwarber, who homered twice, his first coming on the first pitch of the bottom of the first. "We need to keep building off that."
Bryce Harper was asked if the firing lit a fire under the club.
"I thought we went out there and played the game we were supposed to play," he said. "Hopefully it's a stepping stone into tomorrow and a series win."
Like Schwarber, Harper homered twice. His Las Vegas homie, shortstop Bryson Stott, also homered, his first in the big leagues.
Nick Maton, who came up from Triple A when second baseman Jean Segura went down earlier in the week, had his second straight strong game with an RBI triple. He also made a terrific diving catch behind second base in shallow right field. Maton had to leave the game with a sprained right shoulder as a result of his impact with the ground. He will have an MRI on Saturday. The team hopes he's not the latest player to go down with an injury. Segura and shortstop Didi Gregorius are already out. Gregorius could be back next week.
Stott and Maton have brought youthful energy to the lineup the last two games, both wins.
"There was a lot of energy tonight," Thomson said. "I think part of that was us coming off the off day (Thursday) and part of it is these kids at the bottom of the lineup. They really spice things up."
The Phils will look to keep winning for Thomson on Saturday night. They're facing a team that is struggling and they have Zack Wheeler, the NL Pitcher of the Month for May, on the mound to oppose right-hander Michael Lorenzen.