PHILADELPHIA -- Zach Eflin might have saved June for the Phillies.
He dominated arguably the best offense in baseball Wednesday night in a 3-0 victory over the Yankees at Citizens Bank Park, allowing just four hits and two walks in seven innings, while striking out six. The right-hander finished the month with a 5-0 record and 1.76 ERA in five starts.
Four of those wins followed losses. Two of those wins stopped three-game losing streaks. One of those wins stopped a four-game losing streak.
"I think I'm just understanding who I am as a pitcher," Eflin said.
The Phillies acquired Eflin in December 2014 as part of the Jimmy Rollins trade with the Dodgers. Eflin had a sinker and a changeup. He needed to induce weak contact and keep the ball on the ground because he did not miss many bats.
But then a funny thing happened. He changed.
Eflin is more aggressive on the mound. He threw a career-best 20 of 26 (76.9 percent) first-pitch strikes against the Yankees. His career average is 62.3 percent. He is also missing more bats. He got 13 swings and misses, the third-best mark of his career, and he has 10 or more swings and misses in 11 career starts. Seven have come this season, including four of his five starts this month.
He had nine swings and misses in his only other start this month.
"I came over here with a sinker and a changeup," Eflin said. "Now I feel like I have a better arsenal. I've been a lot more impressed with my four-seam. Being able to do that has really helped me a lot. It's kind of cool to think you were one pitcher and then all of a sudden you're a different pitcher. Being able to make that transition has been awesome."
Both managers came away impressed.
"I leaned over and whispered to Thoms [bench coach Rob Thomson] in the middle of the game that nothing rattles him," manager Gabe Kapler said. "It doesn't matter who the hitter is. In fact, at one point, I was joking with him as he was coming off the field about how he walked [Brett] Gardner to get to [Giancarlo] Stanton [in the fifth inning]. I thought that was an interesting strategy. It worked out well."
Stanton struck out looking to end the inning.
"You can see why they're excited about him," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "I thought he threw the ball really well, and really was in command. He shut us down. We were pretty quiet. Usually when we're not scoring runs, we're mounting things. We really didn't mount that much against him. He was in command."
The Phillies are 11-13 this month, which is the toughest month on their schedule. It could have been better. The bullpen blew a few games. It could have been worse, too.
"The guy was dominant all the way through June against some of baseball's best teams," Kapler said. "And then tonight, it was just kind of the cherry on top as he went through a Yankees lineup that is arguably the top five in baseball.
"Every time he went out there, it seemed like he was stopping a streak. Every time he went out there, it seemed like he was answering the bell. Every time he went out there, it seemed like he was meeting a really high bar. I guess we could look back and recognize that we wouldn't be in the place we are today had it not been for Zach Eflin and his performance in June."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Cesar Hernandez worked a five-pitch, two-out walk to put runners on first and second in the second inning. Rhys Hoskins followed with a three-run home run to right field to hand the Phillies a 3-0 lead. Hoskins hit a 1-2 slider just off the plate from Yankees right-hander Luis Cessa. It was Hoskins' 12th homer of the season, and the 11th that has given the Phillies a lead.
"I know I got barrel to it," Hoskins said. "I thought it had a chance, especially after I saw the way Stanton was going after it. Luckily, it did [get out]."
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Phillies first baseman Carlos Santana has been the team's best hitter since early May, but he showed he can play defense in the fourth inning. Neil Walker ripped a line drive down the first-base line, but Santana made a nice diving catch to end the inning. The ball left Walker's bat at 99.9 mph.
HE SAID IT
"Going through this lineup three times is tough. Asking a young pitcher to go through it again is a lot. In some ways, you get him out of there having done everything you've asked him to do. You don't put him in harm's way. You don't send him back out there to add a couple of baserunners and walk off the field wondering what's going to happen in the game. He did everything we asked of him. -- Kapler, on why he pulled Eflin after 92 pitches. Seranthony Dominguez pitched two perfect innings in relief to earn his fifth save.
The Phillies finish June with a four-game series against the Nationals, beginning Thursday night at Citizens Bank Park at 7:05 ET. Right-hander Aaron Nola (9-2, 2.58 ERA) faces Nats right-hander Tanner Roark (3-8, 4.27) in the series opener. The Phillies won two of three against the Nationals last weekend in Washington.