The Phillies got off the schneid on Friday night, as we watched them cruise to an easy 8-3 win in Cincinnati. They jumped on Reds starter Connor Overton early, and rode solid performances from Taijuan Walker and the bullpen to a victory. A few of the team’s nagging issues still showed through, but it was a nice team win all the way around.
The Phils got on the board immediately, with a one-out double scoring Trea Turner in the top of the first. Nick Castellanos walked to put two on with one out, but a Brandon Marsh flyout and a J.T. Realmuto groundout ended the threat. However, Edmundo Sosa doubled the lead with a solo shot in the top of the second, his second longball of the year.
They continued pouring it on in the next frame, with Nick Castellanos driving his ninth double of the season into left-center field to score Kyle Schwarber. Marsh followed that up with an RBI triple off the top of the left field wall, and Realmuto drove him in with a sacrifice fly to make it a 5-0 Phillies lead.
The early scoring allowed Taijuan Walker to settle in and cruise for his first decent start of the year. Over 6.0 frames the right-hander surrendered four hits and walked only two, punching out four on 98 pitches. It’s a nice rebound for one of the Phillies big offseason additions, as he came into this outing having served up six earned runs over only 9.0 innings in his first two starts in 2023.
A few of the cracks we’ve seen in the Phillies armor so far reared their ugly heads, as it wasn’t a perfect performance all the way around. Seranthony Domínguez continued his rough start to the season, giving up a run on one walk and one hit. It’s troubling to see such a dominant arm from last year struggle to find the strike zone, an issue that has plagued Phillies relievers so far. In fact, the Phillies’ pen has issued an astronomical 37 walks in their first fourteen games.
In addition to Domínguez’s struggles, the Phillies still failed to hit with runners in scoring position for most of the game. A three-run ninth inning made things look better, but overall the offense was only 2-9 with runners in scoring position, and left eight men on base.
That ninth inning was encouraging though, as the bats had gone silent after the third. Realmuto smoked a double into left-center field with two on and two outs, scoring Trea Turner. Alec Bohm then drove in two more with a single the other way to increase his hitting streak to eight games. And speaking of hitting streaks, Bryson Stott extended his season-opening streak to a remarkable 14 games.
The bottom of the ninth looked set to be handled by the ever-shaky Craig Kimbrel, but the added insurance allowed Manager Rob Thomson to pivot to Connor Brogdon in a lower leverage situation. Brogdon looked okay, surrendering an unearned run that came about from a rare Edmundo Sosa error but was able to cruise otherwise.
Overall, it was a great all-around win for a team that has struggled to look competent all year long. Hopefully this won’t be a repeat of the beatdown they gave the Marlins that preceded this three-game set, and the Phillies can carry this success into tomorrow’s matchup that pits Matt Strahm against Graham Ashcraft.