Red-hot Herrera leads Phillies into second place

Outfielder finishes 4-for-5, homering in fifth straight game

June 23rd, 2018

WASHINGTON -- As reporters gathered around in the visiting clubhouse at Nationals Park after the Phillies' 12-2 win over the Nationals on Friday night, Vince Velasquez jumped on a chair behind the media to gain a good view of Herrera.
"What are you doing?" Herrera asked the right-hander.
"I want to hear your interview," Velasquez responded with a smile before he listened to Herrera's first answer.
Herrera was the center of attention after he became just the sixth player in Phillies history to hit a home run in five straight games. The 26-year-old finished 4-for-5 to help Philadelphia move past Washington for second place in the National League East and for the second NL Wild Card. The Phils have won eight of their past 11 games.
"It's simply incredible what [Herrera] can do," Zach Eflin said. "The thing with Odubel is that he can shake off anything at any given time. He can look like he's struggling and next pitch he sends it 440 feet."

Herrera joined (2017), (twice, in '08), Bobby Abreu ('05), Mike Schmidt ('79) and Dick Allen ('69) as the only players to homer in five consecutive games. But the Phillies rode one of the league's hottest offenses into their series against the Nationals, and Herrera wasn't the only player to continue performing well.
, , and also notched multiple hits. Since June 14, the Phillies are hitting .290.

While the Nationals entered this season with high expectations and star power, Philadelphia has showed it can compete with them behind Herrera, who's hitting .472 over his past eight games.
"At this point, I think in a lot of ways, we've proven ourselves," manager Gabe Kapler said. "We've gone toe-to-toe with some of the best teams in the league, and done a pretty good job. At some point, it stops being that we're trying to prove ourselves, and we're just competing with really good teams, and I think that's where we are."
Santana, who rebounded from hitting .153 in April, opened the scoring with a two-run single in the first inning. Eflin, who entered Friday with a 1.93 ERA in June, allowed his only two runs in the second inning, and the offense continued to support him as the right-hander claimed his fourth consecutive win.

Herrera knocked his two-run dinger in the third inning to give the Phillies a 4-2 lead. After Santana helped start another two-run rally in the fifth inning, the 32-year-old knocked a two-run homer in the sixth inning to push the Philadelphia lead to 8-2.
Philadelphia forced to throw 113 pitches in 4 1/3 innings, and they'll face inexperienced pitchers the next two days in and , who are filling in for injured starters.
The Phillies' bullpen -- a weakness coming in -- threw four scoreless innings, with two-time All-Star Pat Neshek nearing as he begins a rehab assignment Saturday. All four of the pitchers Philadelphia used weren't on its Opening Day roster.
"It's always satisfying to beat great teams like the Nationals," Herrera said through a translator. "That's what you play for."

The Nationals' best chance to regain momentum came in the fifth inning, when and reached base with one out. Efflin escaped the frame, though, by forcing and Juan Soto to fly out, finishing his 97-pitch night.
"Those are situations I've been working on the past couple years, being able to put guys away when I need to," Efflin said. "Being able to do that and overcome that was huge. Looking forward to continuing that and getting deeper into games."
Santana continues to find ways to get on base. Along with his two hits, the first baseman also drew two walks. Since June 1, Joey Votto has drawn 19 walks, followed by Santana's 18 and 's 17.

will try to recover from a rare poor start when he faces the Nationals at 4:05 p.m. ET Saturday at Nationals Park. Nola allowed four runs over 4 1/3 innings against the Brewers last Sunday, just the second time this season the right-hander has allowed four or more runs. Nola is 1-4 with a 4.50 ERA in 10 career starts against Washington, who will start fellow 25-year-old Fedde on Saturday.