Zach Wheeler was masterful on Saturday; Phillies beat Braves

Wheeler wows in 2021 debut
Zack Wheeler was fantastic last season and he continued in that same fashion on Saturday, tossing a gem that included seven shutout innings in the Phillies' 4-0 win over the Braves at Citizens Bank Park. 

He also chipped in with the bat, driving in a pair of runs. Wheeler, along with Archie Bradley and Hector Neris, combined to allow just one hit on the afternoon. They also didn't walk a batter. At one point, Wheeler retired 17 straight, the lone hit coming in the second frame. He threw 90 pitches, 62 for strikes. 

Wheeler also created storylines with his bat. 

He slugged a two-out single up the middle in the fifth inning to score Jean Segura to give the Phillies a 1-0 lead. He later hit a two-out double down the left-field line in the sixth to score Alec Bohm to give the Phillies a four-run lead. 

“I’m just looking fastball,” Wheeler said. “Pitchers are going to see fastballs. I know it sounds simple and kind of dumb, but it’s the truth. You’re going to see a fastball, you’ve just got to be ready to hit it and more than likely it’s going to be away. You kind of just try to put the bat on the ball and hope for the best.” 

“Easy game, right?” Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins joked. “The guy took 18 months off of hitting and in his first game he gets a couple knocks.” 

Atlanta starter Charlie Morton matched Wheeler through four innings, but things fell apart with two outs in the fifth as the Phillies had six straight batters reach base. Jean Segura started things with a two-strike single; Roman Quinn reached after being hit by a pitch, then Wheeler laced a single up the middle to put the Phillies ahead. Hoskins followed with a two-run double to lengthen the lead. 



“I don’t know if you can say enough great things about what [Wheeler] did today,” manager Joe Girardi said. 

The game lasted just two hours, thirty minutes. 

“You looked up and we were almost through five innings in an hour," Girardi said. 

The Phillies now sit at 2-0 on the season. 

“You score seven runs in two games, you don’t necessarily expect to win both of them,” Girardi said. “But when you have good pitching, you have a chance every day you go out there. That’s the bottom line. I like our pitching. I like the arms we have. I like the different looks we have in our bullpen. There’s power, there’s finesse, there’s changeups, there’s splits, there’s a dominant lefty.” 

Injury update 
Adam Haseley was available to play on Saturday and is expected to be in Sunday's starting lineup for the series finale. He left Thursday's game early with a tweak of the left hamstring. 

Did you know? 
Wheeler is the first Phillie to pitch seven or more innings and have more hits as a batter than he surrendered since Terry Mulholland tossed a no-hitter with no walks and had one hit at the plate on Aug. 15, 1990 vs. San Francisco. 

Up next 
Zach Eflin will make his debut on Sunday as the Phillies aim for a season-opening series sweep. The Braves counter with Ian Anderson.    
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Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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