|Phillies try to stay on a roll when they host Pirates|
The Philadelphia Phillies started the 2018 season slowly but have been on a roll lately and hope to keep going when they host the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday at Citizens Bank Park.
There were some issues that cropped up in the early days, from things on the field to new manager Gabe Kapler and the way he did things.
But everything has settled down nicely, and the Phillies (12-7) had pulled to 1 1/2 games behind the first-place New York Mets Friday night while they were locked in an extra-inning battle with the equally surprising Atlanta Braves.
Philadelphia has won two in a row and eight of its last 10. The Phillies scored a 2-1 victory over the Pirates Friday night -- Philadelphia has won the first two games of the series -- on Odubel Herrera's RBI triple in the bottom of the eighth.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Friday that Herrera now has reached base in 21 consecutive games, a streak that goes back to the 2017 season.
The Phillies now are 7-1 at home this season, the second-best home record in the major leagues. Only Boston (8-1) has fared better.
Aaron Nola (1-1, 2.22 ERA) will start for Philadelphia versus Steven Brault (2-1, 4.74) of the Pirates on Saturday.
Nola has been consistent throughout the season, pitching well in all four of his starts and not giving up more than two runs yet. He has a 1-2 career record with a 3.50 ERA versus the Pirates.
Brault will be making his fourth start in addition to pitching once in relief. He is 0-1 with a 7.36 ERA against the Phillies after one appearance against them, which was a start.
He will be going against a Phillies' team which is doing better on offense due to patience.
Kapler played on some Boston teams that really pushed waiting at the plate, even if it meant getting two strikes. This team is understanding that same message.
"I think if you were to ask all of us hitters, if we're looking for a certain pitch, and it comes on the first pitch, we're going to have a go at it," Rhys Hoskins of the Phillies told the Inquirer. "Mistakes happen, and I don't know whether it's pitchers trying too hard, but it just seems like a lot of mistakes happen with two strikes."
The Pirates have found plenty of offensive success of their own this season, despite struggling in this series.
Pittsburgh, according to the Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh) was averaging over five runs per game after its last season and doing well in several areas. The Pirates are working hard at making contact, and that seems to be paying off, according to manager Clint Hurdle.
"I think they all have challenged themselves individually not so much to hit home runs b ut to cover pitches in areas they can do damage, and to look a little bit more up, out over the plate," Hurdle told the Post-Gazette.
The Pirates (12-8) have the lost the first two games of this series and hope their offense awakens on Saturday.