A close call for the Philadelphia Phillies, but they ultimately edged out the Blue Jays for a 2-1 win on Saturday. The Blue Jays got the win on Friday, 6-5, and the Phils were able to get a pinch-hit solo jack from Nick Williams in the bottom of the 8th yesterday to take a 2-1 win. The Phillies were in a position to win thanks to the standout performance of Aaron Nola. Nola took a no-hitter into the 7th inning, and almost ended up taking a loss along with the near no-hitter, but Williams made sure it wasn’t going to be a sour day. Nola was coming off the worst start of the season, but he rebounded quite nicely. His effort helped give the Phillies sole possession of 1st place in the National League East.
Along with the Braves, the Phillies are having a breakout year in the NL East. They are 0.5 games up on the Braves, with the popular pick, the Washington Nationals in 3rd. We’ll see what transpires from here to September, but I don’t expect the Nationals to go away quietly.
They’ve done a good job of coming up short with massive expectations, so a division win by someone else wouldn’t surprise me, either. The Mets are 3.5 games behind the Phillies for 1st. In any event, it should make for an entertaining division to keep your eye on in September. The Jays, on the other hand, are losers of in seven of their last nine games. They have it tough in the American League East, with the Yankees and Red Sox. Here’s a spoiler: the Jays can forget about them and the division, because it’s not happening this year or even next. They had their chances, but the window closed on them with the departure of Edwin Encarnacion. It was the end of an era in Toronto. Head below for our free Blue Jays vs. Phillies pick.
Toronto Blue Jays vs. Philadelphia Phillies Pick
J.A. Happ (6-3, 3.97 ERA) vs. Nick Pivetta (4-2, 3.23 ERA)
The Blue Jays enter Sunday with a record of 24-28, which is pretty well in line with expectations for them. They are going to go through periods of tough stretches to the surprise of no one. Kendrys Morales was supposed to be a rock for this lineup, but he’s been dealt injuries and poor numbers. Morales holds a batting average of .180 with 4 dingers.
His greatest accomplishment in 2018? Pitching a shutout inning against the Athletics last week in the 9th. Too bad they were already down by nine runs, 9-0. Ideally, we should be talking about his power numbers, not his pitching ability. J.A. Happ will get the nod as the starting pitcher for the Jays on Sunday. He’s done well for the Jays, as he hopes to post a sub-4.00 ERA in Toronto for the third consecutive year. Happ has only really had one bad start in 2018, but it certainly skewed his numbers in the wrong direction.
Happ has faced five hitters in this Phillies’ lineup. They’ve hit .292 off him in 24 at-bats. Carlos Santana has had his number, hitting him for a .385 batting average. As a whole, the Phillies haven’t seen much of Happ, though. Happ has nevertheless been stronger than ever on the road. He’s posted a 1.93 ERA and 0.96 WHIP out of the Rogers Centre. His worst start on the road was a 4 hit and 3 run outing against the Rays.
Happ should have a challenge against Nick Pivetta. Pivetta has been nearly perfect in his last three starts, with an ERA of 0.47 and 0.63 WHIP. In 19 innings, he surrendered only 1 run across those three games. He has been dynamite at home in Philly as well, yielding a 2.00 ERA 0.94 WHIP. The current Jays’ roster is 0-for-9 against Pivetta and just 1 walk. Note that Pivetta is a Canadian, presumably followed the Blue Jays growing up, so he could feel a little more excitement facing them today. The way I see it, we should get another low-scoring contest on Sunday between Happ and Pivetta.