This was a game that illustrated how different things have been for the Phillies since they started the season with two bad months.
The team called up Cristopher Sanchez from the minors and gave him a spot start against the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday night.
The move was intended to give the Phillies’ regular five-man rotation some extra rest en route to the final weeks of a playoff chase.
This was not the first time this season that the Phils tried this strategy. On May 27, at Citi Field in New York, the team brought up Bailey Falter to the minors for the same reason.
Those were the last days of Joe Girardi’s time as manager, when everything went wrong for the Phillies.
These are the days of Rob Thomson, when so much is going right for the Phillies.
The most recent example: Sanchez, in his fourth big league start, threw six innings with a three-run ball to help the Phillies beat the Cincinnati Reds 7-5 for 24,400 at Citizens Bank Park.
In May, the strategy did not work so well. The Phils played a poor defense behind Falter – he gave up five runs but only earned two – losing 8-6 to the Mets. A few days later, Girardi was fired and Thomson took over.
The Phils still have issues with the Mets under Thomson, but otherwise they have done well. They are 47-26 under Thomson. Wednesday night’s win improved them to 69-55 overall and 64-41 against teams other than the Mets.
“Sanchez gave us exactly what we needed,” Thomson said after the game. “We thought it was very important for us to give our starters a little extra rest. We’re in the dog days now and we’ve leaned on it quite a bit. This was really about the health of our staff.”
Sanchez gave up six basehits and did not walk. He knocked out seven.
“He got us deep into the game, gave the pen some rest, gave the starters some rest,” said third baseman Alec Bohm. “He did a great job.”
Bohm made an excellent play to start a game-ending double play as things turned hairy in the ninth. He also drove in a run with a hit in the four-run third inning of the Phillies. JT Realmuto led off that frame with a home run. Realmuto added a double en route to three hits. Jean Segura also had three hits. Rhys Hoskins scored three runs. Nick Castellanos added a few hits to improve his streak to 14 games.
Castellanos’ best at bat of the evening could come in the first inning when he grounded into a double play. He pushed Cincinnati starter TJ Zeuch to 10 pitches, missed a three-run homer to the left by a few yards and an extra single to the right by a few feet or two.
The Phillies ended the evening with 15 hits and were 6 for 16 with runners in scoring position.
“Keep the line moving, get the next guy up and give him a chance to get into a run,” Bohm said of the team’s offensive approach. “Nobody tried to do too much. Nobody tried to be a hero. Just pass the baton and make good turns.”
Armed with a little extra rest, Aaron Nola kicks off the series finale against the Reds on Thursday night. The Phils are looking for a four-game sweep of NL Central’s second-worst team. On Friday, NL Central’s worst team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, comes to town. The Phils have the second wildcard spot for NL in their hands with two games above San Diego. The schedule is kind to them and their starting pitchers are rested – thanks to Cristopher Sanchez.
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