The Philadelphia Phillies have stayed near the top of the National League standings halfway through the season thanks in large part to their strong play at Citizens Bank Park.
They’ll close out their first-half home slate this week with two games against the Baltimore Orioles. Right-handers Zach Eflin and Alex Cobb will face off Tuesday night.
The Phillies enter the series at 45-37 and are 28-16 at home. The team had an off-day Monday after taking three of four against the Washington Nationals Kenny Clark Jersey , and the Phillies won Sunday in 13 innings with a walk-off homer from catcher Andrew Knapp.
“A win like that, especially against Washington, is huge for our season right now,” Knapp told NBC Sports Philadelphia. “It shows we’re here to stay. A lot of games left and we’ve got to keep playing well, but we’re up there with a lot of those teams.”
The Phillies have won 13 of their last 20 games and are firmly in second place in the National League East less than two weeks before the All-Star break. They’ll try to pad their win total against the Orioles (24-59), who have the worst record in baseball.
Eflin (6-2, 3.02 ERA) will be making his first start of July after a stellar month of June for the Phillies. The 24-year-old went 5-0 with a 1.76 ERA and 0.978 WHIP in five starts last month.
Eflin had one of the most impressive starts of his three-year major league career in his last outing. He threw seven scoreless innings against the New York Yankees, giving up only four hits while striking out six batters.
“Eflin was just outstanding,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler told reporters about Eflin after his last start. “…He certainly wasn’t rattled by anything. When he had base runners on, it’s almost like he got calmer. He did a really good job of controlling the running game and controlling his fastball. His working north-south better than he has before. And in June, he was dominant the whole month against some of baseball’s best teams.”
Eflin has never faced Baltimore in 32 career starts. Cobb (2-9, 6.75) will also be making his first appearance against the Phillies in his seven-year major league career.
The Orioles are 3-11 in Cobb’s 14 starts in 2018, including a loss to the Seattle Mariners last Wednesday. Cobb allowed five runs on eight hits and three walks over 4 2/3 innings in that start. It was the seventh time this season he’s surrendered at least five earned runs in a game.
“The inconsistency on my end, really never dealt with it before Kevin Huber Jersey ,” Cobb told mlb.com after the game. “But it’s really unacceptable to keep going out there and having a good game, and a game where you don’t give much of an opportunity for your team to win.”
The Phillies are 1-0 against the Orioles this season. They won a game in Baltimore on May 16 and will play another game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on July 12 to make up a rained-out contest.
With perhaps the most frustrating road trip of their season in the rearview mirror, the Minnesota Twins return home Thursday looking to get back on track in the opener of a four-game series against the Baltimore Orioles at Target Field.
Minnesota went 1-8 on their I-94 excursion that began by dropping two of three to the Chicago White Sox and ended with sweeps by the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers. As a result, the Twins now sit 13 games under .500 and 12 games behind American League Central-leading Cleveland, holding down third place in the division.
“I think we’re all frustrated,” manager Paul Molitor said after the Brewers hit three solo home runs in a 3-2 victory over the Twins at Miller Park on Wednesday. “You win one game and you’re on the road for 10 days, playing good teams.
“We’re creating some of our own problems. At the same time, we’re not catching a lot of breaks. We’ll get home, looking forward to that. Have a nice homestand before the break. We’ll try to get these guys ready for a series with Baltimore tomorrow.”
The Twins will turn to Aaron Slegers (0-0, 3.38 ERA) for his first start of the season in the hopes of turning things around.
He has made just one other major league appearance this season, allowing two runs over 5 1/3 innings of relief May 30 at Kansas City. He has a 5.66 ERA in five career outings, including three starts, in the big leagues overall. Slegers has never faced Baltimore.
Like the Twins, the Orioles come into the series looking to snap out of a slump. They have lost nine of their last 10 games [url=]Tyler Boyd Jersey[/url] , including two in a row to Philadelphia this week.
Manager Buck Showalter still has confidence his team can turn things around.
“There are some really good people in that locker room and I’d really like to see them get a return, but you can’t will it. You can’t just hope it,” said Showalter. “It’s got to be one pitch at a time. You can’t look at the big picture.”
Andrew Cashner (2-8, 4.48) gets the start for Baltimore on Thursday, and he is looking for his first victory since May 21. He has a 3.21 ERA over his last five outings, four of which were quality starts.
Keeping the ball in the park has been a big reason for that recent run of success. Cashner had allowed 11 home runs through his first nine starts but only three over his last seven — and none his last time out when he held the Los Angeles Angels to a run on four hits and a pair of walks while striking out four over six innings of work.
“That’s what I try to do every time I take the mound, just keep the team in the game and grind it out, no matter if it’s pretty or ugly,” Cashner told the Baltimore Sun. “Just try to get through the seventh. Maybe next time I’ll get through the seventh. I thought I got stronger as I went along. The breaking stuff was better, the offspeed was better. Something to build on as we go and keep moving forward.”
Cashner will be making his first career start at Target Field but is 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA in two previous starts against the Twins, who tagged him for five runs (four earned) over five innings on March 31 in Baltimore.