Phillies’ top 2 free agent additions warm up and end Dodgers’ streak on a high

Five days after shutting down the Tigers in seven innings, Taijuan Walker had an equally impressive start as the Phillies ended their homestand with a productive offensive day.

Walker overcame a 26-pitch first inning and a labored third to pitch five scoreless innings against baseball’s most patient roster, the Dodgers.

He retired the last seven batters he faced relatively quickly, making it a curious decision for manager Rob Thomson to draw him to 83 pitches. The Phillies obviously didn’t want Walker to face Freddie Freeman, Will Smith and Max Muncy for the third time, even with a three-point lead at the time.

In the dugout, Walker didn’t seem happy with the decision, shaking his head a few times. Kyle Schwarber walked up to chat with him at some point after the decision was made late in the fifth.

Gregory Soto, Seranthony Dominguez and Jose Alvarado allowed isolated runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings, but the Phillies continued to veer and won 7-3 in front of a crowd of 44,287.

The Phils went 5-1 on their home turf. They are 32-33 as they hit the road for four at Arizona and three at Oakland.

The Dodgers entered with the lowest chase rate in MLB. Walker had his greatest success this season by tricking the other team into expanding the strike zone. Earlier this week against Detroit, he threw 42 splitters, 28 of them out of the zone. The Tigers swung more than half of them.

The Dodgers, with Mookie Betts, Freeman, Smith, Muncy and JD Martinez, make you work. They don’t enlarge the area much. Still, Walker started his afternoon by hitting Betts and Freeman swinging on nasty splitters that fell out of the area.

Three of Walker’s five innings have been 1-2-3. He has a 1.93 ERA in his last five starts and the Phillies have won six of his last eight.

Facing a Dodgers opener for the second time in three days, the Phils scored in the first inning on three straight singles by Trea Turner, Nick Castellanos and Bryce Harper.

They tackled two more with two outs in the third inning on a two-run single from Bryson Stott, who hit .345 with two outs and .248 with two strikes to lead the Phillies. He has six more hits than anyone else in the majors this season. He made great strides from Year 1 to Year 2 and is batting .292 overall in 2023.

Turner seems to be warming up. He hit a liner down the middle for a single on his first at bat and doubled his next time to score the Phillies’ first two runs. Later, he hit a sharp left single and scored again on Nick Castellanos’ two-point shot. Turner’s hard-hit rate has increased dramatically every month this season, and his swing-and-miss rate has gone down every month.

It was Castellanos’ eighth home run of the season, the same number he had until August 2 last year.

Backup receiver Garrett Stubbs also performed his second successful safety squeeze in the past month for another run.

Alec Bohm returned from the injured list and looked rusty, going 0-4 with three strikeouts. Kody Clemens got another nod at first base and continues to do well on almost every start. He deprived Muncy of extra bases with a sixth-inning diving stoppage that would otherwise have brought the tying run to home plate. In the bottom of the seventh, he hit Stott at home with two outs.

Now the Phillies are off to Arizona, where they’ve lost 12 of their last 15 games to Diamondbacks teams that were far below this 2023 release. Arizona leads the NL West 40-25, has won five straight and 11 out of 15.

The Phils are 19-11 at home but 13-22 on the road, second-worst in the National League behind the Rockies. The upcoming seven-game trip is their longest of the rest of the season.

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