Phils' 29-6 stretch their best since ... 1892!

Behind seven strong innings from Wheeler, club wins 6th straight, completes 7th sweep

May 23rd, 2024

PHILADELPHIA -- In 1892, the first commercial long-distance phone line was opened. Grover Cleveland was elected to his second term as U.S. president and the first night football game was played.

And until Thursday, it was the last time the Phillies went 29-6 over a 35-game stretch.

In beating the Rangers, 5-2, in the finale of a three-game set at Citizens Bank Park to complete their seventh sweep of the season, the Phils matched their best record over a 35-game span in franchise history.

“It’s amazing,” Nick Castellanos said. “This is the best team I’ve ever been a part of.”

After his team’s sixth straight win to finish the homestand 7-1, Rob Thomson rattled off a number of players who had a good game on Thursday. In doing so, the Phils’ manager highlighted one of the team’s biggest strengths -- its depth.

“They're never complacent,” Thomson said. “They keep fighting. They prepare, they compete. They have a lot of fun doing it, they love playing the game. So yeah, it was a good homestand, with big crowds every day, every night. It's been a lot of fun.”

Wheeler deals
One bad apple can spoil the bunch, but won’t let a bad inning spoil an outing.

Last time out, it was the second inning that gave him trouble in an otherwise dominant outing, and on Thursday, it was the seventh. After getting two quick outs to open the inning, Wheeler gave up three straight singles and a run to prompt a mound visit from J.T. Realmuto. A wild pitch and a walk was enough for a second visit, which Wheeler followed by generating a Marcus Semien popout with the bases loaded to end the inning and seal his line.

“Offspeed was working well, I was able to throw offspeed for chase, pretty consistent when I needed to [be],” Wheeler said. “Something I kind of struggled with this year, so it was nice to do that.”

After being plagued by walks in his last two starts, Wheeler gave up two free passes to narrowly avoid a stretch of three straight starts with three or more walks -- something the right-hander hasn’t done since 2019 with the Mets.

He threw his splitter -- a pitch Wheeler added to his arsenal in the offseason to combat lefties -- seven times and generated four swings and misses on the pitch. Wheeler recorded two of his five strikeouts with the splitter, including getting lefty Josh Smith to go down swinging to end the first.

“It’s just another pitch that he can throw, especially to left-handed hitters,” Thomson said. “Just gives him another look. Now he’s added the cutter, he’s added the splitter. He’s got a lot of things he can do to attack left-handed hitters, and right-handers obviously. His splitter I thought was really good today -- was really biting, a lot of depth to it.”

Castellanos finding his groove
Though he hasn’t come out of the gate the way he may have wanted, Castellanos has learned a valuable lesson to start this season: patience. Just 51 games into 2024, the right fielder has already walked 17 times. Over the course of 157 games last season, Castellanos walked 36 times.

“Walking has never been something that in the past I’ve [seen] as a good thing,” Castellanos said. “Just because I’ve been so measured on how hard I’m hitting the ball consistently, but never too late to learn something good, and just relax, wait for my pitch and if I take four, then I take four.”

He took four balls twice in the second game of the series against Texas before drilling a solo homer off Jesus Tinoco in the seventh inning of the finale. Castellanos’ fifth homer of the season came off the bat at 96.5 mph, according to Statcast.

The Phils’ other four runs came in the form of a game-tying solo blast in the third from Realmuto, and a two-run triple from Cristian Pache and a Kyle Schwarber RBI single in a three-run fourth.

“Everybody is contributing, it’s someone different every day,” Castellanos said. “And we’re all having a lot of fun doing it. Obviously, it’s a really long season and we have so much baseball left. We just need to stay the course and keep going about our work and business this way and let the results be what they are.”