Phillies aim for rare sweep against Braves


The Philadelphia Phillies will be looking for their first three-game sweep of the Atlanta Braves in two years when they host the series finale on Sunday afternoon.

The Phillies won their second straight game against Atlanta, 4-0 on Saturday, to close in their first sweep of the Braves since March 28-31, 2019. The two National League East rivals split 10 games in 2020, and the Phillies have won five of the past six meetings.

Philadelphia will send right-hander Zach Eflin to the mound to face Atlanta right-hander Ian Anderson.

Eflin made 10 starts last season and went 4-2 with a 3.97 ERA, striking out 70 and walking only 15 in 59 innings. In two starts against the Braves in 2020, Eflin was 2-0 with a 2.92 ERA, striking out 14 in 12 1/3 innings. He is 5-3 with a 3.48 ERA in nine career starts against Atlanta.

Anderson made six starts as a rookie in 2020 and went 3-2 with a 1.95 ERA; he struck out 41 and walked 14 in 32 1/3 innings. This will be the first time Anderson has faced Philadelphia.

Philadelphia’s pitching has been stellar in the first two games. The Phillies have limited the Braves to a combined two runs and eight hits with 24 strikeouts. Zack Wheeler worked seven scoreless innings and allowed only one hit on Saturday, and the Philadelphia pitchers retired the final 23 Braves in order.

“That was fun,” Wheeler said. “Everything went smoothly. J.T. (Realmuto) called a great game. When he’s back there it makes things a lot easier.”

The Philadelphia bullpen, the team’s weak link a year ago, has put together 5 1/3 scoreless innings and eight strikeouts.

“When you score seven runs in two games, you don’t necessarily expect to win both of them,” Philadelphia manager Joe Girardi said. “When you have good pitching, you have a chance every time you go out there. I like our pitchers. I like the arms we have. I like the different looks we have in the bullpen. Pitching is where it’s at. You look at teams that win and they have really good pitching.”

The futility runs up and down the Atlanta lineup. 2020 National League MVP Freddie Freeman is 0-for-7. Marcell Ozuna went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts on Saturday.

“Those are two pretty good pitchers (Aaron Nola and Wheeler) to have to start the season with,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “They can say the same thing about us. We’ll be fine.”

The Braves made a roster move before the game, activating utility infielder Johan Camargo to replace Ehire Adrianza, who had to leave the team to take care of a personal matter and must remain away from the team until he clears COVID-19 protocols. Camargo was on the five-man taxi squad and already was in Philadelphia.

The Phillies got good news when outfielder Adam Haseley got a clean bill of health after tweaking his left hamstring in Thursday’s opener. Haseley was available on Saturday and is expected to start on Sunday.

–Field Level Media

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