Wild Card MLB: Zach Eflin, Jose Alvarado helps the Phillies rule out Braves

The Phillies scored a crucial win in their quest to break a 10-year post-season drought Thursday night and may even have found a bullpen gun for the final days of the regular season and beyond.

Zach Eflin walked out of the bullpen in the upper seventh inning and recorded five big outs in relief from Ranger Suarez to help secure a major 1-0 win over the Atlanta Braves in front of a crowd of 21,276 in cold Citizens Bank Park .

Jose Alvarado, usually a setup man, got the last four outs, two for strikeouts, and earned the save.

Four days after being overwhelmed by the Braves in a three-game streak in Atlanta, the Phillies opened this four-game streak with a win, thanks largely to their launch.

“Tight play, a lot of pressure and our pitch has really arrived,” said coach Rob Thomson. Ranger gave us some length, which we really needed, and Eflin and Alvarado were both great.

“Winning that game is great. They are a great baseball club. The crowd was great. I’m not sure how many people were here, but they were loud. There was a lot of excitement and excitement, so it was good. And it was a good one. cool night, so it was like a playoff game. “

One night after scoring five wins against Toronto, including a match winner in the bottom 10th inning, Matt Vierling took home the only run of the match with a sacrifice fly against Max Fried in the second inning.

The win was the 82nd of the Phillies season, securing a second consecutive winning season, but this team wants more. And with a paycheck of over $ 230 million, he needs more.

The Phillies are two and a half games down on Milwaukee for third and final National League wild card spot with 13 games to play. San Diego holds second place, but the Phils are only behind in the middle of the game.

The Phils’ magic number for taking a post-season spot is 10.

Suarez, who last week in Atlanta pitched six innings from a run in a losing effort against the Braves, played six innings again. This time, he didn’t allow a run.

No one in the Phillies clubhouse felt better after Eflin’s win.

A starter during his seven seasons with the Phillies, he missed nearly three months due to surgically repaired right knee pain and inflammation. With time running out in the season, he wasn’t able to rebuild as a starter, so he aimed to come back as a relief. He pitched a low-pressure inning last week in Miami and another this week at home before Thomson called him to a huge seat in this one.

Eflin responded brilliantly. He only needed six pitches to get through the seventh. He came back for eighth and knocked out two before moving on to Alvarado.

“It was great,” Eflin said. “For the past three months, when I was down, I dreamed of being out there again and being competitive. That’s all I want is to be competitive.”

Thomson plans to continue using Eflin in pressure situations. His cool arm could be a boost at a time when several rescuers are running on the fumes.

Throwing in relief requires a different mindset than in the beginning. Eflin is ready and wants to be used.

“It’s very different,” he said. “Typically, in the first inning of a start, your heart beats fast and you have butterflies, but nothing like getting into the seventh inning of a one-point game against the Braves.”

Thomson said he doesn’t have a definite closer, who can use a variety of relievers in the role. He used Brad Hand, Seranthony Dominguez and David Robertson. Everyone has struggled recently due to increased workloads. Add Alvarado to the list of rescuers who may approach work in the future. Shoot, it is not excluded that Eflin also gets some repetitions in that role. Anyone who can get pressured out will be the guy.

The Phillies didn’t exactly get the ball out of cover on Thursday night. They only had six hits, but two of them made it in the second inning before Vierling’s sacrifice flew. JT Realmuto set the sacrifice fly by going from first to third on a base hit on the right by Jean Segura.

“That was the game,” Thomson said of Realmuto’s grassroots run.

Bryce Harper’s September fights continued. He was 0 for 4 with a couple of strikeouts. In 17 games this month, he is 10 out of 65 (.154) with 24 strikeouts.

“It just got stuck in the middle,” Thomson said. “He will take it back.”

Friday night would be a good time for Harper to get him back. The Phils face a right-handed in Jake Odorizzi. Aaron Nola will leave for the Phillies.

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