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August 24, 2016

Joseph, Hernandez help bats break out in win over White Sox

The Phillies offense came into play on Wednesday night in one of its typical funks.

An inability to score more than three runs per game was why the team entered June with a losing record, despite superb starting pitching from their young rotation in the season’s first two months. Although the bats have shown life since the end of June at times, they’re still prone to droughts like the one they took into their series finale with the Chicago White Sox.

The Phils entered Wednesday having scored one run in their last 20 innings.

Aaron Altherr and the infield trio of Cesar Hernandez, Tommy Joseph, and Freddy Galvis brought that to an end in a 5-3 victory over the White Sox.

After Joseph hit a two-out double off Chicago starter James Shields in the second inning, Altherr followed by ripping a single to right to score the game’s first run. Galvis followed with a double to bring Altherr home.

Hernandez (2-for-5) and Joseph (2-for-4) each added home runs off Shields later in the game to pad the Phillies lead.

The win was just the third for the Phillies in their last eight games. Following an off-day in their schedule today, the Phils continue their road trip on Friday with the start of three-game series at Citi Field against the New York Mets.

 • No word on Jeremy Hellickson yet – it’s possible he won’t be put on waivers until after his start this weekend in New York – but both Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz have cleared waivers according to’s Jayson Stark.

It’s a little weird there is zero interest in Howard, since the Phillies would be paying the salary.

Howard entered play Wednesday hitting .307 with nine home runs, five doubles, and a 1.028 OPS in 31 games since June 23. He would seem to be at least an option as a power-hitting bench piece for a contending team.

Then again, in critical games down the stretch, and surely in the postseason, if it came to that, opposing teams would summon left-handed pitchers to pitch to Howard. In the last five seasons, entering Wednesday night, Howard was hitting .179 with 205 strikeouts in 468 at-bats against left-handed pitching.

Of course, shortly after typing that last sentence, Howard got a hit against a left-handed reliever in Chicago on Wednesday night.

 Jerad Eickhoff was oddly removed from Wednesday night’s game after needing just 71 pitches to get through six strong innings against the White Sox. Perhaps Pete Mackanin saw it as an opportunity to not push his young starter (he’s going to need someone to keep making starts through Oct. 2) and send out his trusted back-end-of-the pen trio of Edubray Ramos, Hector Neris, and Jeanmar Gomez.

Or maybe he wanted Eickhoff to end his night on a good note. Eickhoff was tested in the sixth inning – the second-year pitcher’s kryptonite in 2016 – and escaped it with the lead despite a shaky start.

Eickhoff allowed three straight hits to begin the sixth, including a two-run home run to Dioner Navarro. But then he recorded three straight outs, leaving a runner in scoring position, and maintaining a two-run lead.

Eickhoff entered Wednesday night’s start with a 2.75 ERA this season in innings 1 through 5 of his first 25 starts. He had a 12.00 ERA in the sixth inning (24 runs in 18 innings), with opponents hitting .402/.470/.793 against him.

 • The White Sox announced new naming rights for their ballpark, currently known as U.S. Cellular Field, on Wednesday. It will be called Guaranteed Rate Field beginning in November. 

Long live Comiskey Park.

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @ryanlawrence21