1st-place Phillies set to get lineup boost Friday night


The Phillies have built some momentum the last four days. They finally broke through and won consecutive games for the first time in a month on Tuesday and by dinner time Thursday had extended their winning streak to four games with a sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers.

The Phils won three one-run games against the Brewers and capped off the sweep with a crisp, 2-0, win Thursday, led by Zack Wheeler and Alec Bohm.

Joe Girardi called Thursday's win the high point of the season. The Phils, who lead the tight NL East at 17-15, will try to build on the momentum they established as they head out onto the road for the next nine games. The Phils will play at Atlanta and at Washington before traveling back to their spring home of Pinellas County, Florida for three against Toronto in Dunedin, where you could grab a hoagie at Delco's and head back down Main Street to watch the game from a picnic bench at Skip's.

The road has not been kind to the Phillies in recent seasons. They are 80-123 away from Citizens Bank Park since the start of 2018.

The Phils will get a little boost as they head into Atlanta on Friday night. Jean Segura, hitting .333 and sitting on 200 career doubles, will return from the injured list and move back in at second base. Rookie Nick Maton has done a fine job filling in for Segura, but he's just 6 for his last 36 (.167) with 13 strikeouts. Maton remains with the club. The Phils sent Mickey Moniak to Triple A to clear a spot for Segura.

Girardi has mentioned the possibility of getting a look at Maton in center field at some point. An infielder by trade, Maton has recently taken balls in the outfield during pregame workouts. He has not played the outfield in his professional career.

Scott Kingery remains with the club. He could get some at-bats as the centerfielder against left-handed pitching, Girardi said. Odubel Herrera, for now, remains the primary centerfielder. The Phils have gotten woeful production from the position this season, but Herrera has had base hits the last two games.

In addition to Segura, the Phils will have Bryce Harper, who missed seven of the last eight games with a sore wrist. Harper is fourth in the league with a 1.043 OPS. Seven of the Phillies' last eight games have been decided by one run. They were able to sweep the Brewers without Harper but could certainly use his bat as they hit the road.

Tonight’s lineup:

1. Andrew McCutchen LF

2. Rhys Hoskins 1B

3. Bryce Harper RF

4. J.T. Realmuto C

5. Alec Bohm 3B

6. Didi Gregorius SS

7. Jean Segura 2B

8. Odubel Herrera CF

9. Zach Eflin P

The Phils are 4-2 against the Braves this season. Braves slugger and Phillies-killer Freddie Freeman has been slow getting going. He's hitting just .202 and was 0 for 16 with seven strikeouts before getting a day off Thursday as the Braves completed a three-game sweep of Washington to run their record to 15-16.

The Braves' starting pitching staff ranks 25th in baseball with a 4.75 ERA. Phillies starters rank 11th, a full run better at 3.75.

The Phillies will send two of their top three starters to the mound in this series. Zach Eflin gets the ball Friday night against Charlie Morton. Aaron Nola starts against Huascar Ynoa on Sunday night. Vince Velasquez gets the middle game against Ian Anderson on Saturday night.

Nola, Eflin and Zack Wheeler have pitched to a 3.05 ERA and averaged 6½ innings over 20 starts for the Phillies.

The trio feeds off each other. Wheeler set a high bar for Eflin with a three-hit shutout on Thursday.

"They've kept us in it," catcher Andrew Knapp said. "There's been some streakiness with the bats. But those guys have been able to grind, basically, the entire time. They've stepped up when we need them. 

"They've gone and shown that they can go three times through a lineup and not get hurt and be able to pitch late into games. It's cool. I think there's a sense of confidence with those guys. They all try to one-up each other. It's been fun."

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