PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said Tuesday that there are a few areas the Phillies can upgrade before July 31.If Phillies right-hander Zach Eflin keeps pitching like this, the Phillies seem more likely to look at areas other than the rotation, like the left side of the infield
PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said Tuesday that there are a few areas the Phillies can upgrade before July 31.
If Phillies right-hander Zach Eflin keeps pitching like this, the Phillies seem more likely to look at areas other than the rotation, like the left side of the infield and bullpen. Eflin allowed two runs in seven innings in Tuesday night's 3-2 victory over the Orioles at Citizens Bank Park. He is 6-0 with a 1.91 ERA in his last six starts, becoming the first Phillies pitcher to win six consecutive starts since Cliff Lee in 2011.
"I believe a lot more in my stuff than I ever have in my life," Eflin said. "It's good to carry that confidence into the game and to have a good game plan. Like I said, the confidence is the greatest thing, and I have a lot of confidence right now. I don't think I've ever felt this way before."
Eflin has allowed two or fewer runs in each of his last six starts. He has struck out 34 and walked six in 37 2/3 innings in that stretch. He tied a career high with 14 swings and misses Tuesday. He has 10 or more swings and misses in 12 career starts. Eight have come this season, including five of his past six starts. He had nine swings and misses in his other start in that stretch.
He allowed a solo home run to Mark Trumbo in the second inning to give the Orioles a 1-0 lead, but even that shot did not give them a good feeling.
"Quite honestly, I thought we'd have to really work for it tonight," Trumbo said. "He's been throwing the ball really well. Had an excellent month of June. We kind of knew that going in. He settled down and threw a nice ball game."
Eflin threw only 82 pitches through seven innings, but Phillies manager Gabe Kapler lifted him for pinch-hitter Dylan Cozens in the seventh. Kapler said afterward that he made that call in part because Eflin had a blister on his middle finger.
Eflin said it is not serious.
"It really wasn't affecting me until the later innings and even then it didn't really affect me," he said. "I was ready to go back out there for the eighth. It really wasn't affecting me pitch, other than the slider occasionally, but even then I could still go out there and throw my best slider."
The bullpen gave the Phillies a scare in the eighth. Tommy Hunter started the inning, leaving with a runner on first and two outs. Seranthony Dominguez loaded the bases with a pair of walks. He got out of the inning only because Maikel Franco made a game-saving diving catch to his right, throwing out Chris Davis from his knees to end the inning.
"What a tremendous play, throwing from his knees," Kapler said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Andrew Knapp hit the Phillies' first walk-off homer since April 2016 in the 13th inning Sunday against the Nationals. He came up with another clutch hit in the fourth inning when he tripled down the right-field line to score Nick Williams to give the Phillies a 3-2 lead. Knapp is hitting .353 (12-for-34) with three doubles, one triple, three home runs, seven RBIs and a 1.136 OPS in his last 11 games.
"He's been important from the offensive side, no question," Kapler said. "He's been having better at-bats. He's been driving the baseball, hitting for extra bases. Obviously, the big walk-off home run that nobody is ever going to forget. But he's also guided our pitchers beautifully. His game planning is really spectacular."
Rhys Hoskins doubled to score two runs in the third inning to give the Phillies a 2-1 lead. Hoskins reached 100 career RBIs in his 124th career game. Elias Sports Bureau said it is the fewest games played from the beginning of a Major League career with the Phillies to reach 100 RBIs. Chuck Klein held the previous mark. He needed 143 games to reach 100 RBIs in 1929.
Hoskins also reached 100 career RBIs in the ninth-fewest games in MLB history. Since 1951, only Ryan Braun (118 games in 2008) and Hoskins have reached 100 career RBIs in 124 or fewer games.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Franco saved the game with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth inning, when he made a diving catch to his right on a ground ball from Davis. Franco, whose cap partially covered his eyes, threw from his knees to first baseman Carlos Santana to end the inning. The Orioles reviewed Franco's play, thinking Santana's foot might have been pulled off the bag. But the play stood as called.
"I don't know how I made that play," Franco said. "I just don't know. I just know I got it, and I tried to make a good throw."
HE SAID IT
"I don't think about it. Just come in every single day and do everything I can do. Try to live day to day and not think about what's going to happen. Try to just be in my moment and after that whatever happens happens." -- Franco, on "We want Manny!" chants from Phillies fans. While the Phillies are unlikely to land Manny Machado before July 31, they are expected to make a push for a third baseman.
Phillies right-hander Aaron Nola (10-2, 2.48 ERA) faces the Orioles on Wednesday in the second game of a two-game series at Citizens Bank Park. Nola almost certainly will learn next week that he has made the National League All-Star team. Orioles right-hander Yefry Ramirez (0-1, 2.89) starts for Baltimore. First pitch is at 4:05 p.m. ET.
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.