Phillies bring out the brooms, sweep Braves behind stellar performance by Eflin

Eflin helps lead Phillies to series sweep
The Phillies could not have asked for a better opening series. Aside from some missed opportunities at the plate, the club played near-flawless baseball and capped things off with a 2-1 win over the Braves on Sunday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. 

The starting pitching was outstanding again as Zach Eflin dominated for seven innings, surrendering one run on four hits and a walk. He whiffed eight. It was a solid encore performance to Zack Wheeler's effort on Saturday when he tossed seven scoreless frames while surrendering one hit while sitting down ten. 

“I always try to top the guy that pitches before me -- just use it as motivation to continue the streak of good pitching,” Eflin said. “It’s really nice to see the first two guys go out there and get the job done with confidence. To follow that lead is crucial for me. … I’m happy with the result.” 

The afternoon started rocky for Eflin as he needed 23 pitches to get through the first frame, but he sailed from there on out. The lone blemish came off a solo shot to leftfield by Travis d'Arnaud in the seventh. 

“Really, I wanted to keep them guessing and just stress weak contact to the top of that lineup,” Eflin said. “They are a deep squad, so it’s important to keep them off the bases. I felt I did a good job with that.” 

Andrew Knapp hit the first homer of the season for the Phillies in the second inning. The Phillies then broke a 1-1 tie when Alec Bohm drove in Rhys Hoskins with an RBI single in the eighth. 

“[Bohm] has come through time and time again,” manager Joe Girardi said. “We feel pretty good about him when he is in that spot. He is not going to try to do too much.” 

Jose Alvarado, who got the job done but not after loading the bases on Thursday, tossed a spotless inning on Sunday to claim the win. Hector Neris, pitching in a third straight game, picked up the save. 

The bullpen tossed 7 1/3 scoreless innings over the weekend. It is a small sample size but a breath of fresh air considering how poorly the bullpen performed last season. 

“I’m really pleased. Everyone did their job. The starters were really good, got us deep in the game. The bullpen came in and did their job,” Girardi said. “To limit this team like we did, it’s really not easy to do. [The Braves] are an explosive lineup and it’s extremely dangerous. Our guys executed pitches.”.
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Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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