Behind a dominant outing from Zack Wheeler, the Phillies beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 12-1.
Wheeler pitched more than seven innings on Saturday, striking out 10, allowing three hits, one run, and zero walks. It was Wheeler’s fourth double-digit game of the season and the twentieth of his career.
The Phillies Saturday home run is just short of tying their franchise record of 46 home runs in a single month. Bryson Stott, Nick Castellanos and Brandon Marsh went deep against the Cardinals to surpass that mark and bring the Phillies’ all-time home run total to 48 in August.
“Earlier in the season, we weren’t doing as well at home. So it’s good to see,” manager Rob Thompson said. “You look at the back of their baseball cards, and you know they’re coming. It’s just a matter of when.”
Marsh added, “Let’s add.”
With the win, the Phillies (71-58) pick up their second straight win and will return at 1:35 PM Sunday looking for a sweep against the Cardinals (56-74).
Wheeler is at the top of his game
In his final game, on August 20 against the Washington Nationals, Wheeler allowed five hits and four runs in the first inning and it ended up in a loss. It was a very different story on Saturday, as he looked dominant since the first batter he faced, striking out six of the Cardinals’ first seven batters.
“It was electric tonight,” Thompson said. “That’s probably the best thing I’ve seen of him all year. The four-seam had him jumping, the two-seam had power sinking in, all the secondary throws were good, and he hit the punches.”
The right-hander did not allow a base runner until the third inning, when Cardinals designated Luken Baker hit a home run at the left field line, the first of his MLB career.
Baker’s home run was off the sweeper, a pitch Wheeler added to his arsenal in spring training. A sweeper, sometimes called a slurve, is a variation of the slider with a more horizontal separator. It was one of Wheeler’s best pitches this season and Has a whiff rate of 40.8%. He only allowed three home runs, including Baker’s run, out of the field.
“It was just a mistake I made, and he made it,” Wheeler said. “And I knew what kind of things I had today, and it didn’t bother me.”
A soft hit in the third that Trea Turner had to hit with a homer and Tommy Edman managed to home was the only other hit or base runner Wheeler allowed until the eighth inning.
Wheeler, who had been sitting out for an extended period of time while the Phillies offense hit seven runs in the bottom of the seventh, returned the eighth and faced a one-hitter. He allowed a leadoff leadoff leadoff single and was pulled for Gregory Soto.
The four-wheeler sewing machine picked up pace on Saturday. He averaged 95.9 mph with the field during the 2023 season, but that number came to 96.8 against the Cardinals. Wheeler touched 98 mph with his four-seamer four times.
Wheeler said the increased speed is a result of a mechanical adjustment he’s been working on since before his last start against the Nationals.
“Just step back a little to the side, and step a little forward with my feet,” Wheeler said. “It’s not crazy, but it helps to get my legs up. It just got a little too big and too much. We simplified it a bit. It allows me to stay on top of my back legs and go down the slope.
The Phillies first trailed for the second time against the Cardinals, who took a 1-0 lead with Homer Baker for the lead in the third. And just like Friday night, it was the bottom half of the Phillies lineup that got the offense going.
Batting the eight hole, Marsh extended his hitting streak to nine games with a single to lead off the bottom of the third, a new career high.
“I’m happy to see some balls go down, for everybody else, too,” Marsh said. “It was a good home, we just have to carry on and enjoy it.”
A couple of walks to Jake Cave and Kyle Schwarber loaded the bases for no outs, and Marsh came on to score and tie the game after Turner hit into a double play. An RBI single off Bryce Harper scored Cave and put the Phillies up 2–1.
The Phillies made another run in each of the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings to extend their lead to 5-1. They opened the game in the seventh inning, capitalizing on six hits — including homers from Castellanos and Marsh — and two walks to plate seven more runs.
“Everyone contributed in one way or another,” Thompson said. “Even (Alec) Boom, who didn’t take a hit, got a big fly when the game was kind of in the balance. … It’s probably one of the most complete games we’ve had in general, defensively and offensively.
Five Phillies scored multi-hit games, with Harper going 3-for-4 with two RBIs and Castellanos and Marsh collecting three RBIs. Cardinals pitchers also allowed seven walks.