(CBS Philadelphia) — It’s a long baseball season, and every team has their day (or more) in the sun. This weekend it was the Philadelphia Phillies and Toronto Blue Jays’ turn. The Phillies have won their last four games, the first three of which came in walk-off fashion. The Blue Jays slammed eight homeruns in Sunday night’s dismantling of the Boston Red Sox.
This week’s Baseball Report looks at the Phillies’ walk-off streak, the Blue Jays’ power surge and some of the specifics surrounding MLB’s crackdown on pitchers for substance use.
Phillies Win Three Walk-Offs
The Phillies remain in the National League hunt a month before the All-Star break. At 32-31, they sit three games behind the East-leading New York Mets, And lately Philadelphia has discovered the propensity to win close games. Look no further than last week, when the Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves, 2-1 and 4-3, and then the New York Yankees, 8-7. Each of those games could have gone either way, but the Phillies came out on top at home.
Their offense was lacking in Wednesday night’s game against the Braves. They had four hits off of Tucker Davidson early in the game, then made 15 straight outs. In the ninth inning, with one down, Andrew McCutchen drew a walk. Brad Miller popped up for the second out, leaving the game in the hands of Luke Williams, who had just arrived from AAA the day before. Williams had doubled in the fourth inning for the Phillies previous hit. He deposited an 0-1 slider beyond the left-field wall for a 2-1 walk-off win.
The late-game heroics continued Thursday. Zack Wheeler carried a shutout through eight innings. And Jean Segura’s double in the bottom of the inning gave the Phillies the game’s only run to that point. Half an inning later, Freddie Freeman tied it up with a solo shot to dead center. The Braves picked up two more runs on two wild pitches in the 10th inning and seemed on their way to victory. But Alex Bohm singled home a run the bottom half. Then Odubel Herrera doubled to left field, putting the tying run at third base and the winning run at second. Segura drove them both home with a hit off the left-center-field wall. That was the Phillies’ second straight walk-off win, this one by the score of 4-3. It wasn’t their last.
The next would come two nights later against the New York Yankees. DJ LeMahieu tied the game at 7 with a three-run homer in the ninth. Phillies reliever Archie Bradley stranded the designated runner in the top of the 10th. In the bottom of the inning, Travis Jankowski bunted the designated runner down to third. Then, after a pop out, Segura hit a hard grounder to third, which was enough to bring home the winning run.
The Phillies have since followed up their three walk-off wins with a shutout of the Yankees and a loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Philadelphia is four games behind the New York Mets in the NL East.
Blue Jays Hit 8 HRs Off Red Sox
The Blue Jays jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning with two of their eight home runs. Teoscar Hernández deposited a 1-0 pitch over the Green Monster for a three-run homer, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. topped that with a solo shot over the same left-field wall and out of the stadium entirely. The Blue Jays never looked back.
Marcus Semien clobbered a solo shot to dead center to extend the lead to 5-0 in the second inning. Red Sox pitcher Martín Pérez was yanked after the next batter, having managed only four outs. Relievers didn’t fare much better.
In the top of the fourth, the Blue Jays blew the game wide open when Hernandez hit his second three-run home run. Bo Bichette tagged a three-run HR an inning later, and Cavan Biggio hit a solo shot the inning after that. In the seventh inning, it was Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s turn, adding his 21st of the season. Rowdy Tellez hit Toronto’s eight in the ninth inning.
The Red Sox hit two long balls of their own, but it was far from enough to keep pace with the Blue Jays. The final score was 18-4. Toronto’s eight home runs came one day after they belted five home runs en route to a 7-2 win over Boston.
The Blue Jays’ eight HRs was their second most in team history. It was also the most allowed by the Red Sox pitching staff at Fenway or anywhere else.
MLB Serious About Substance Crackdown
Pitchers have been allowed to use certain substances to enhance their grip on the ball. But more recently the line between grip enhancer and foreign substance has become a little fuzzy. Some of these grip enhancers are really more about increasing spin.
MLB will be trying to crackdown on pitchers using foreign substances, be it Spider Tack, pine tar, or some kind of mixture involving sunscreen. That policy gained a little more clarity recently. According to The Athletic‘s Ken Rosenthal, the League will have umpires inspect starters at least twice and pitchers at least once per game. A position player’s glove is fair game too. Inspections will happen during commercials, though umpires can conduct them anytime they deem necessary.
Any player found doctoring the ball will be ejected immediately and suspended for 10 games, with pay. The policy starts June 21.