TORONTO – Struggling to locate his fastball effectively against a good fastball-hitting team in the Toronto Blue Jays, Phillies starter Jerad Eickhoff relied on his slider to help him through his 13th start of the season.
The right-hander tossed six innings of scoreless ball, helping the Phils blank the Jays 7-0 in interleague play on Monday night at the Rogers Centre (see Instant Replay).
With the victory the Phillies (29-34) snapped a four-game skid and won for just the fourth time in their last 17, while the loss snapped Toronto’s (35-30) three-game win streak. The win was also the Phillies' first win on a Monday since July 20, 2015, snapping a stretch of 13 consecutive losing Mondays.
The Phillies are now 5-2 against the American League this season. Monday was the first time the Phils have shut out an AL opponent since Sept. 20, 2013 (at Oakland).
“I think I knew that when my fastball wasn’t kind of drifting off the plate a little bit and I knew that I had to get a pitch to get ‘em off,” Eickhoff said of his thought process. “I knew it wasn’t where it needed to be. This is a great team. They hit fastballs really well and I knew that coming in, so I’ve got to be precise with that off-speed stuff.
Eickhoff (4-8, 3.40) dodged a bit of a bullet in not having to face Blue Jays red-hot DH Edwin Encarnacion, who jammed his right index finger stealing third on Sunday. However, Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson, Michael Saunders and Justin Smoak combined for just four hits.
The 25-year-old held the Blue Jays' bats to just one hit through four while going to his slider 30 times over the course of the outing.
“I think I had to [throw the slider]. It wasn’t the prettiest game by my personal standards, but anytime we can put up zeros and keep us in the game, that’s my job, and I was really happy to do that,” Eickhoff said.
Monday was the ninth quality start of the season for Eickhoff, who has surrendered just three earned runs over his last 19 2/3 innings of work. It was the third time this season he’s tossed at least six scoreless innings, and the fourth time he has held the opposition to one earned run or less in his 13 outings.
Eickhoff has now won two consecutive starts for the first time since his final two outings of the 2015 season.
“At first I didn’t know if [Eickhoff] was going to make five innings. I was hoping he'd give us at least six and he pitched real well,” Phillies manager Pete MacKanin said. “(Odubel) Herrera broke the ice with the home run and it didn't give us any room, but it was good to see us get to (R.A.) Dickey. He had a good knuckleball once again. Good to see (Peter Bourjos) get a couple of hits. Cesar (Hernandez) also had a couple that was nice to see.
“It was nice to see us win by seven runs for a change. We haven't done that all year. I think we won on a Monday for the first time all year. It's always good to win, especially against this team.”
Dickey (4-6, 4.16) allowed three earned runs on five hits while striking out four in 6 1/3 innings in the loss.
Herrera got the Phils' offense started in the third, taking Dickey’s 2-1 pitch over the right-field wall for his sixth home run of the season. Herrera has now hit safely in seven of his last eight games.
Ryan Howard gave the Phillies a 2-0 lead when he led off the seventh with his 10th homer of the season as part of a three-run inning for the club. Ten of Howard’s 24 hits this season have gone yard.
The Phillies put up a three-spot again in the ninth on a pair of RBI singles from Herrera and Bourjos while Hernandez cashed in with an RBI double.
“The offense did a great job, and obviously the pitching was really good,” Bourjos said. “[Eickhoff] threw the ball really well, got ahead of hitters and put ‘em away.
“For the offense to come through and put up some runs early with Odubel hitting the home run and Howie hitting the home run and then kind of grind it out, is awesome.”