Wheeler impressive in debut; Gosselin goes deep twice as Phillies win

Zack Wheeler and Phillies pick up a win over the Marlins
As lousy as things looked for the Phillies on Friday in the season opener, Saturday had a much better feel. Zack Wheeler, making his Phillies debut, pitched well and local product Phil Gosselin connected for a pair of homers to lift the Phillies to a 7-1 win over the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park.

Wheeler was still throwing gas in the seventh inning, hitting the mid-to-upper 90's to get himself out of a potential jam while guarding a two-run lead. He surrendered one run on five hits over seven innings. He walked two and whiffed four.

It's the type of outing the Phillies hope to see a lot more of after inking Wheeler to a five-year, $118 million contract back in December.

“It must be nice to have 96, 97 [mph] in your back pocket all the time as a pitcher,” manager Joe Girardi said. "It's a luxury. He's extremely blessed. He used it very well today. He used both fastballs extremely well. He spotted them extremely well. He pitched down in the zone. The fact that he's that strong in his first start is impressive to me.”

Wheeler and his wife Dominique welcomed their first child on Monday, Wesley, a healthy baby boy. Both are doing well. Zack returned to the club on Thursday and played catch on Friday, deeming himself ready to make his debut start.

“The other day when I faced the Orioles, I was all out of sync,” Wheeler said, noting his final exhibition start against Baltimore. “I had a lot of other stuff on my mind. I felt a lot better today. More in sync, the timing, and everything.”

Local standout Phil Gosselin hit a pair of homers, including a go-ahead two-run shot in the sixth and a solo blast in the eighth. His success as a West Chester native has provided a fantastic storyline from the start of summer camp through the start of the regular season.

“It’s been awesome,” Gosselin said. “I was hoping to make the team out of camp. I knew it was going to be an uphill battle and I’d really have to play well and force their hand a little, and I was able to do that. I’m really happy that [manager] Joe [Girardi] gave me a start early on to keep it rolling.”

Gosselin entered Saturday with just seven homers in 597 career big-league at-bats.

"We call him 'Barrels' for a reason," said catcher J.T. Realmuto. "That guy can hit. We were glad to see what he did. He's a great guy, really easy to root for."

Realmuto also had a big day at the plate for the Phils, hitting a three-run blast to center in the seventh. Didi Gregorius also homered for the second consecutive day.

"This was a big win," Girardi said. "We talk about winning series. If we don't win this game today, we don't have an opportunity to do that (Sunday)."

Price absent
Phillies pitching coach Bryan Price was absent from Saturday's contest and not with the team. Girardi said “it’s a medical issue that I can't discuss.”

Up next
The Phillies turn to righty-hander Vince Velasquez, who looked sharp in camp, to close out the series with the Marlins on Sunday. The Fish counter with righty Jose Urena.
__________________________________
Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

No comments: