Phillies eye 4-game sweep of visiting Nationals

Not too long ago, the Phillies were 9-14. If they can complete a four-game sweep of the Nationals on Thursday, they would improve to 18-15.. On Wednesday, Philadelphia won 3-0 against three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer. In career against the Nationals, Eflin holds a 3-3 mark with a 4.17 ERA in seven starts.

The Philadelphia Phillies will be looking for a four-game series sweep when

they host the Washington Nationals on Thursday.

Not too long ago, the Phillies were 9-14. If they can complete a four-gamesweep of the Nationals on Thursday, they would improve to 18-15.

On Wednesday, Philadelphia won 3-0 against three-time Cy Young Award winnerMax Scherzer. The Phillies have also posted back-to-back shutouts.

The Phillies will hand the ball Thursday to right-hander Zach Eflin (2-1, 4.10ERA). Facing the Braves in his most recent start, Eflin tossed seven inningsand gave up four hits and one run while striking out eight and walking none.

In career against the Nationals, Eflin holds a 3-3 mark with a 4.17 ERA inseven starts.

“For Zach, I’ve been thrilled with what I’ve seen,” Phillies manager JoeGirardi said.

Eflin has been more effective this season with an improved curveball. In hislatest outing, he recorded six strikeouts with the curveball.

“I’m not flipping it over for strikes anymore,” Eflin said. “I’m beingaggressive with it and trying to create as much spin as possible with it. Ithink that’s complementing my other pitches. I’m happy with where it’s at, andI’m happy to continue moving forward with it.”

The surging Phillies continue to receive production from different players,which has been a key component in their winning streak. Rhys Hoskins hascompiled four straight multi-hit games, but he was given the day offWednesday.

Hoskins’ replacement, Neil Walker, came through with three hits and two RBIs.

“I think we’re finally starting to settle in,” Hoskins said.

The defending World Series champion Nationals dropped to 10 games below .500at 12-22 following Wednesday’s shutout loss.

Hoping to avoid a sixth consecutive defeat, the Nationals will turn tostruggling starter Anibal Sanchez.

Sanchez (1-4, 6.90 ERA) will be making his seventh start. His last outing wasin Boston on Saturday, and he allowed eight hits and five runs in five inningsof what turned out to be a 5-3 defeat.

In Sanchez’s career against the Phillies, he is 6-11 with a 4.39 ERA in 25starts.

“The first couple innings, the first two innings, I feel the ball reallyweird. I don’t know why,” Sanchez said after his latest start. “I don’t havean explanation for that, but after that, I started to figure out how to putthe ball down, especially because I needed to work with my changeup.

“I think I got a couple pitches that I missed up, but I did it with a purpose,so yeah, all the time the key for me is working down. I elevated the ball whenI don’t want to. I paid the price.”

Sanchez has scuffled through many stretches during his six starts, but hebelieves that better days are ahead.

“I feel good lately,” he said. “But in the first inning, I don’t know, I triedto hit the corners, I tried to hit the spots, I think they were jumpingquickly on the ball.”

The Nationals managed only four hits on Wednesday — singles by Luis Garcia,Victor Robles and Asdrubal Cabrera plus a ninth-inning double by Kurt Suzukithat extended his hitting streak to 12 games.

–Field Level Media

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