PHILADELPHIA -- On the fourth pitch of the game, when Phillies starter Jerad Eickhoff painted the outside corner with a 75-mph curveball to get Padres leadoff hitter Jon Jay looking, it was apparent that Eickhoff had something going on Wednesday night.That something turned out to be pinpoint control and command
PHILADELPHIA -- On the fourth pitch of the game, when Phillies starter Jerad Eickhoff painted the outside corner with a 75-mph curveball to get Padres leadoff hitter Jon Jay looking, it was apparent that Eickhoff had something going on Wednesday night.
That something turned out to be pinpoint control and command of his out pitch. Twenty outs later, Eickhoff had retired eight more hitters via strikeout, using his hook for all but the final two in leading the Phillies to a 2-1 win over the Padres at Citizens Bank Park.
"That first inning, to get a couple curveballs over for strikes, I think that was kind of a sign in itself," said Eickhoff, who picked up his first win of the season. "Whenever I can find that curveball, since it's a feel pitch, I'm gonna go to it until the hitters tell me otherwise."
Judging by his seven scoreless innings, Eickhoff never got any such word from the opposing side. It took his spot coming up in the batting order in the eighth for him to finally get pulled after 95 pitches.
It wasn't until the sixth that the 25-year-old right-hander recorded any of his punchouts via any pitch but his curve. Even then, Eickhoff had already gotten ahead of Wil Myers with breaking balls, only to get Myers swinging with a 95-mph heater at the letters to end the inning.
When a pitcher is as on like Eickhoff was on Wednesday night, it makes it easy on his batterymate
"When you can put your fingers down and know that he's out," catcher Cameron Rupp said, "it's fun to be back there and work with him."
With Eickhoff's seven shutout innings, the Philadelphia rotation now has the lowest ERA in baseball, with a 2.50 mark in 54 innings. That's including Charlie Morton's first start on April 7, in which the Reds rocked him to the tune of five runs in the fourth inning.
Prior to Eickhoff's outing, Morton pitched 6 2/3 scoreless on Tuesday. Aaron Nola struck out nine in seven innings on Monday against the Padres. Jeremy Hellickson allowed only two runs in 5 2/3 against the Mets on Sunday. And Vince Velasquez turned in arguably the Phillies' best start before this one, going six scoreless and striking out nine Mets this past Saturday.
"Watching Nola go out there and do what he does, Morton last night, it's a tremendous accomplishment for those guys," Eickhoff said. "It's a privilege to be in the dugout and watch them and work off them. … I feel it's my job to do the same."
Until the Padres scraped across a run in the ninth inning, the Phillies' staff hadn't allowed a run in 19 2/3 innings.
"It's been very impressive," Mackanin said. "And I don't see any reason why we won't continue to pitch well for the entire season if these guys stay healthy."
Evan Webeck is an associate reporter for MLB.com.