Wheeler takes no-hitter into the 8th, earns first win of season

April 21st, 2024

PHILADELPHIA -- How locked in is the Phillies' rotation?

They’re not just trying to beat their opponents. They’re trying to outdo each other.

One day after Spencer Turnbull took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, did him one better, holding the White Sox hitless until the eighth in a 9-5 victory for the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

“It’s a friendly competition,” said Wheeler, who struck out eight and walked two. “Spencer had a good night last night. I try to go out there and top that and I’m sure [Aaron Nola] will try to do the same tomorrow. We try to one-up each other and that’s what makes us good. You’re just trying to beat the guy that goes before you.”

It was the fifth win in a row for the Phillies (13-8), who became the first team to carry a no-hitter past the sixth inning in back-to-back starts since the 2022 Astros. The starting rotation has not allowed an earned run in the past four games (29 1/3 innings).

Wheeler did enough to top Turnbull, but he wasn’t going to go much longer. Manager Rob Thomson told him after the seventh that he wasn’t going to push him past 120 pitches.

“It’s kind of a tough deal right there but I’m not going to let him get hurt,” Thomson said. “You want him to get the no-hitter but you don’t want to put him in jeopardy and he understood that.”

“[Thomson] said I had 20 more,” Wheeler said. “I told J.T. [Realmuto] I was going to try to get some quicker outs. But it didn’t happen … It’s a long season. I always say that when this type of thing happens, you want to be good for the long run. No-hitters are cool, but you gotta be safe, too.”

Korey Lee broke up the no-no by grounding a single past Bryce Harper with one out in the eighth. Wheeler’s rapidly approaching pitch limit may have played a part.

“Sinker in,” Wheeler said. “I think it was in. Maybe not in enough. Like I said, I was trying to get some quick outs. Maybe get a little bit more of the plate.”

Wheeler entered Saturday 0-3 through his first four starts, despite pitching well. He started the game by jumping ahead 0-2 on Nicky Lopez, but ultimately walked Chicago’s leadoff man on 10 pitches. It took just 10 more pitches to finish the frame and was smooth sailing from there.

“I was a little tired after that first at-bat,” Wheeler said. “I figured it was going to be a long day.”

Wheeler did not allow another baserunner until he hit Paul DeJong in the fifth. He exited after Lee’s eighth-inning single to a standing ovation.

“He does that each and every night for us, so I was glad that we finally got him a win,” said Trea Turner, who went 2-for-5 with a double, two RBIs and a run. “It was vintage Zack.”

The White Sox (3-17) scored five runs off Ricardo Pinto in the ninth and had the tying run at the plate, but their rally fell short when José Alvarado came in and got a groundout on the first pitch he threw to end the game.

Bottom half comes up big
Nick Castellanos broke out in a big way on Saturday, beginning with a triple off the top of the right-field wall in the second. It was his first extra-base hit since a home run in Game 1 of the NLCS last year against Arizona. The right fielder added two more singles, including one that drove in two runs in the fifth, and finished 3-for-3 with a walk and two runs.

Castellanos entered Saturday with just 11 hits -- all singles -- in 72 at-bats and had not recorded a hit since April 14.

It highlighted a huge night for the back half of the lineup; Johan Rojas chipped in three hits and a stolen base while Brandon Marsh hit his fifth home run.

“We have the same if not even more depth than last year,” Turner said. “I think that’s a huge advantage for us.”