The Phillies won Tuesday night for the third time in four tries when they score a run that wasn't driven in by their pitcher. Good things usually happen when the offense can score six runs, and Tuesday night's 6-1 win at Wrigley Field felt overdue after a miserable weekend in San Francisco. Nick Williams homered, Zach Eflin pitched great, and Seranthony Dominguez shut the door. The Phillies would end the 10-game road trip with a 5-5 record if they sweep the Cubs.
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Tuesday night would likely have been Zach Eflin's final start in the rotation before being sent to triple A had he faltered at Wrigley Field. There are two arms at Lehigh Valley — Enyel De Los Santos and Cole Irvin — waiting for a promotion. Eflin was well aware.
So what did he do? He turned in his best start of the season.
The righthander did not allow a run until there were two outs in the eighth inning. He struck out two and walked one. It was the type of performance the Phillies needed after a rough weekend in San Francisco. And it was the type of performance Eflin needed with his job on the line. Eflin worked quickly, throwing first-pitch strikes to 13 of the 31 batters he faced and picking up 14 outs with three pitches or fewer. He showed the promise that he had flashed a month ago when he started the season with three straight strong starts.
"I attacked the strike zone with all of my pitches," Eflin said. "Being able to keep them off balance and pitching inside. I did that a lot more than usual tonight. I really wanted to attack them, and I was pretty successful doing that."
Nick Williams' big homer stemmed from the scouting report he received from hitting coach John Mallee, who worked for the Cubs before joining the Phillies this season. Williams is out to win a starting role once Rhys Hoskins returns from the disabled list, and Tuesday night was a good argument.
Jake Arrieta and Gabe Kapler met to discuss the team's defensive shifts, and the pitcher also cleared the air with Scott Kingery, whom he criticized Sunday for not going to second on an infield grounder. Kingery said he never had a problem with what Arrieta had said. Everything seems fine in the Phillies clubhouse.
The Phillies drafted seven more players Tuesday and will wrap up the draft today. Amateur scouting director Johnny Almaraz said he believes Notre Dame outfielder Matt Vierling, whom the Phillies drafted in the fifth round, will be a quick mover through the minor leagues.
Tonight: Aaron Nola faces the Cubs, 8:05 p.m.
Tomorrow: Nick Pivetta closes out series at Wrigley, 2:20 p.m.
Friday: Phillies return home vs. Milwaukee, 7:05 p.m.
Saturday: Jake Arrieta starts for the first time since blasting the shifts, 1:05 p.m.
The Phillies did not have a player with more than one hit Tuesday night, but they received a hit from each of their nine starters, even Zach Eflin. The team's nine hits were equal to the number they had totaled in the final two games of the San Francisco series, and it was their most hits since they had 12 in the second game of last week's Dodgers series.
"Really puzzled by Phillies thinking with their first round pick. Even more concerning is scouting director Johnny Almaraz comment …. "With some instruction, I believe that he's got the chance to be an average to an above-average third baseman at the major-league level." Really. A chance to be just average! Whatever happened to becoming great? Almaraz is fortunate he doesn't work for me," – Gary C., email