Phillies take series opener; Arrieta on the mound Saturday

Jorge Alfaro with the key hit for Phillies
It must be something about close games. The Phillies pulled out yet another late-inning comeback in Friday's 2-1 win over the Rays at Tropicana Field. The win was Philadelphia's fourth one-run win of the young season.

“If we’re going to be a really good team, we’re going to win ballgames like this,” manager Gabe Kapler told reporters afterward (AP). “We’re going to kind of stick our nose in it. These are games you have to grind out.”

This time Jorge Alfaro came up with the key hit, a two-out RBI single in the ninth scoring Scott Kingery who reached earlier in the frame via a double.

Aside from Alfaro, Vince Velasquez put together perhaps the best performance of the night for Philadelphia. The hurler tossed 6 2/3 innings, surrendering just one run on four hits. He walked one and struck out seven. His pitches had movement and he was economical, needing just 93 pitches to get into the seventh.

“I only threw six or seven changeups, and that was to upset the timing of the hitters,” Velasquez told reporters afterward (see video). “Just the fact that I used my secondary pitches and having the conviction of throwing them for strikes.”



Starting Improvements
Over the last nine games, Phillies' starters have allowed two runs or fewer eight times and four hits or fewer six times. Also of note, the Phillies starting pitching staff ranks third in baseball in WAR according to Fan Graphs (1.9) behind only the Astros and Redsox. The 1.9 is tops in the National League.

Success but Strikeouts
The Phillies have had success as of late, but the strikeouts continue to rack up at an alarming rate. With 13 on Friday, the club ranks 6th in the National League with 123 while ranking last in batting average at .221.

Battle of the A's
Saturday's contest will feature Jake Arrieta making his second start in a Phillies' uniform. He tossed just four innings in a no-decision on Sunday because he was on a pitch count. He scuffled a bit early but settled down to retire 10 of the 11 final batters he faced. He'll be opposed by Chris Archer.

Tonight's Lineup
1. Hernandez 4
2. Santana 3
3. Herrera 8
4. Hoskins DH
5. Williams 9
6. Kingery 7
7. Franco 5
8. Alfaro 2
9. Crawford 6
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Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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