Phillies Game Story

Wheeler dominates, Harper goes yard again as Phillies finish another sweep

NBC Universal, Inc.

It must be a disheartening feeling for a struggling club to show up at the ballpark in hopes of avoiding a sweep and know it will have to get through Zack Wheeler to do so.

Wheeler dominated the Giants as the Phillies' offense came alive in the middle innings of a 6-1 win that completed a four-game sweep. The Phils have swept four of their last six series (Giants, Padres, Rockies, White Sox), they took two of three from the Angels and split with the Reds.

This team is hot as can be. The Phillies are 25-11, the best record in baseball, and they lead the Braves by three games, their largest first-place lead in the NL East since May 31, 2019.

They've gone 17-3 in their last 20 games with winning streaks of seven, six and four games.

"It's never easy to beat a major-league team four times in a row," J.T. Realmuto said. "To be able to go out and dominate in all facets of the game, it's a good series."

Wheeler faced a first-inning jam with two men aboard and one out but Bryson Stott helped him out of it with a diving stop to begin a 6-4-3 double play. It was Stott's first defensive chance at shortstop since Game 6 of the 2022 World Series. He should see plenty of time at his former position over the next six weeks or so with Trea Turner sidelined by a strained left hamstring.

The Phillies have made a habit of scoring in the first two innings, doing so in 16 of 18 games entering Monday night, but were held off the board until the bottom of the fourth by Scranton native Mason Black in his MLB debut. Black walked Nick Castellanos and Stott with two outs and Whit Merrifield delivered an RBI single out of the eight-hole. Turner's injury opens the door for Merrifield to play a ton if Stott does indeed get the lion's share of reps at shortstop.

It's good timing, too, with Merrifield heating up at the plate. He's 10-for-24 with two doubles, two home runs and four RBI during a seven-game hitting streak.

Bryce Harper broke the game open with a three-run blast to left-center in the bottom of the fifth after back-to-back singles by Kyle Schwarber and Realmuto. Harper was also the key figure in Sunday night's win with a three-run homer off of Logan Webb.

In his last 17 games, Harper has hit .298/.453/.596 with two doubles, five homers, 17 RBI, 17 walks and 16 strikeouts.

Schwarber added a solo shot off the foul pole in right field in the ninth inning for his ninth of the year.

Nick Castellanos reached base all four times with a single, RBI double and two walks.

Wheeler struck out a season-high 11 and allowed just an unearned run over seven innings to improve to 4-3 with a 1.64 ERA. Stott committed a throwing error with one out in the top of the sixth and the runner scored on a sacrifice fly, but that was it.

"He always had plus stuff, he's just more of a pitcher now than he was in the past," Realmuto said. "He used to be more of a thrower and just kinda challenge you in the middle of the zone, came at you with two or three pitches.

"Now he's got five or six pitches that he uses on both sides of the plate. He can toy with the hitters more than he used to, kinda mess with their heads, get them looking for one thing and throw something else."

Wheeler was pitching on regular rest, unlike last week in Anaheim. Wheeler has expressed several times as a Phillie and reiterated after the Angels start that he does not like to pitch on extra rest.

"I think it was more just routine this time, having more days rest, not being as sharp, I think that's part of it," Wheeler said last week. "Some points in the season you probably need it, but it's just another day of trying to keep that rhythm that I've had going, just another day to try to keep it in sync."

Wheeler will have an extra day before his next start because the Phillies are off Thursday, but that's not the same thing, from his perspective.

"I think it's more of when you have the days when you're here at the field and you're throwing and all that type of stuff," he said. "When you take a complete day off, I feel like it doesn't affect you as much."

Wheeler has reached a Roy Halladay-like point where this is simply what you expect every time out. In his worst start this season, he struck out 10 and allowed four runs. He's had double-digit K's three times already. After expressing his desire in spring training to win the Cy Young award this year, Wheeler has pitched like it.

The Phils on Tuesday welcome in the Toronto Blue Jays (16-19) for a quick two-game series.

Cristopher Sanchez (1-3, 3.68) looks to bounce back in Game 1 opposite Jose Berrios (4-2, 1.44).

Aaron Nola (4-1, 3.32) and Chris Bassitt (2-5, 5.45) duel in Game 2.

Contact Us