DETROIT - The Phillies completed a two-game sweep of the lowly Detroit Tigers with a 4-0 win at Comerica Park on Wednesday afternoon.
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The victory gave the Phillies their first three-game winning streak since June 24-27 when they swept a four-game series from the New York Mets. At 54-48, the Phillies are six games over .500 for the first time since June 19.
Starting pitching - and pitching in general - has fueled the Phillies' modest winning streak. Starters Drew Smyly, Aaron Nola and Vince Velasquez have combined to allow just two earned runs in 18 2/3 innings over the three wins. The bullpen has been impressive, as well.
Solid start for Vinny Velo
He still has completed six innings just once this season, but what Velasquez was able to give the Phillies on Wednesday was very good. He pitched 5 2/3 shutout innings, scattered four hits, two walks and struck out nine. Velasquez's pitch count was typically high at 110. However, he got 16 swinging strikes, 10 on his riding fastball.
The Tigers entered Wednesday's game with the worst record in the majors. The Tigers' offense entered the day ranked last in the majors with a .233 batting average and second-to-last in runs per game (3.63) and OPS (6.76).
Phillies pitchers did what you're supposed to do against an offense like that. They combined to give up just one earned run in 24 innings in the two games.
A little long ball
Comerica Park is one of baseball's biggest, a tough place to hit home runs. The Phillies hit three in the two games. Roman Quinn had a two-run shot on Tuesday night and J.T. Realmuto and Nick Williams both went deep against Jordan Zimmermann on Wednesday to give the Phils a 2-0 lead in the middle innings. Zimmermann is 0-8.
Lefty Ranger Suarez, a starter throughout his minor-league career, and still a candidate to start down the road, is coming up big out of the bullpen. He pitched 1 1/3 scoreless inning and has allowed just one run in 13 1/3 innings in his last 10 appearances.
Harper's last rest?
Bryce Harper was not in the starting lineup for just the second time this season. He served as the designated hitter on Tuesday night. Monday was an off day in the schedule and so is Thursday. What gives? Harper is fine. Manager Gabe Kapler said he was just trying to get Harper a little extra rest and a day game after a 15-inning game made sense. The hope is that getting three days off in the same week will maximize Harper's performance the rest of the way. It's possible that Harper will not get another day off this season, or as long as the Phillies are in the race.
After catching 15 innings Tuesday night, Realmuto got a break from the position. Kapler considered using Realmuto as the DH but the player said he preferred to play the field. So Realmuto started at first base and Hoskins was the DH. Realmuto had played in 23 games for the Marlins at first base over the previous three seasons.
The Phillies begin an important three-game series against the Braves on Friday night. The Phillies have not yet announced a starting rotation but it's likely that Jake Arrieta and Zach Eflin will pitch the first two games. The Phils could use Aaron Nola or Drew Smyly on Sunday.
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