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June 23, 2024

Instant observations: Cristopher Sánchez throws seven shutout innings in Phillies win over Diamondbacks

The Phillies took care of business on Sunday thanks to a scoreless outing for left-hander Cristopher Sánchez.

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Cristopher Sánchez 6.23.24 Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports

Phillies southpaw Cristopher Sánchez made his first start on Sunday morning since inking a four-year contract extension.

Looking to nab a series victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Phillies took the field at Citizens Bank Sunday afternoon morning. Left-hander Cristopher Sánchez made his first start since the team announced it had inked him to a four-year contract extension, and he rose to the occasion yet again, leading the Phils to a 4-1 victory. Here is what stood out from the win:

Cristopher Sánchez throws another gem

Following a shaky outing in Boston last week in which he only lasted four innings, Sánchez rebounded with a strong performance on Monday, allowing just one earned run across seven innings. The Phillies' southpaw built on that momentum with an even better start Sunday, calmly silencing Arizona's lineup in dominant fashion.

Sánchez's final line Sunday: 7.0 innings pitched, three hits, zero runs, no walks and four strikeouts on 80 pitches (54 strikes). His season-long ERA is 2.67.

With a very manageable pitch count, Sánchez easily could have pitched at least one more inning, if not go for a complete game. But Phillies manager Rob Thomson does not like to let his relief pitchers -- particularly the highest-leverage arms -- go too long without pitching. José Alvarado was going on five days without appearing in a game and Jeff Hoffman was going on four days of rest, so Sánchez was pulled earlier than he may have been under normal circumstances. 

The Phillies hope Sánchez will be starting games for them well into October, so it can't hurt much to trim his pitch count by a hair every now and then.

Bryson Stott shows signs of life

It has been an up-and-down year for Stott, and unfortunately for the Phillies, so far the low points have outweighed the peaks for their second baseman.

Stott had a slow start to the season before turning red-hot and looking like he was on the verge of a breakout. Over the course of 30 games between April 11 and May 18, Stott slashed .309/.424/.553 and came up with clutch hit after clutch hit, catapulting his season-long OPS to .855. 

In 29 games since his heater came to an end predating Sunday's game, Stott slashed .183/.246/.231.

There are a few reasons for hope with Stott. He has turned his impressive plate discipline into a higher walk rate in 2024 while cutting down on his strikeouts, and after being a Gold Glove Award nominee at second base last year in the National League, he has continued to improve in the field in 2024. He should once again be a very strong contender for that award.

Stott drew a walk and scored a run in the bottom of the sixth inning, and in the bottom of the seventh he drove in a run with a single to the opposite field. Stott was desperate for a strong game before the team heads to Detroit for a three-game set against the Tigers, and perhaps this contest could give him the boost he has been looking for.

As much as the Phillies need improved offensive production from their outfield, their lineup would be a lot tougher for opposing pitchers to navigate if Stott were to get back on track at the plate.

Phillies struggle with RISP, but break through in late innings

Through five innings of action Sunday, the Phillies had collected seven hits, but only had one run to show for it -- when Nick Castellanos drove in Alec Bohm with a single in the second inning. The team was struggling to hit with runners in scoring position, only giving Sánchez one run of breathing room.

But after Stott and Brandon Marsh drew back-to-back walks in the sixth inning and advanced a base each on a balk, David Dahl came through, driving in both base-runners with a single to right field that gave the Phillies a 3-0 lead. Stott added an additional run of insurance with his run-scoring hit in the following inning.

There is no doubt that the hitters at the top of Thomson's lineup on a daily basis -- Kyle Schwarber, Trea Turner, Bryce Harper and Alec Bohm -- are going to collect plenty of hits and get on base. What will determine if this Phillies lineup reverts to being just a good one or continues to perform at an elite level is whether or not the guys in the middle and bottom of the order take advantage of their opportunities.

A fun tidbit

The Phillies provide extensive game notes to media members before each game, and this packet of paper is an absolute gold mine of information -- most of it useful data, and some of it trivial. 

Consider this in the latter category: I have always wondered what the team's record is in games wearing each of their uniforms (this year, they are limited to five: the red pinstripes, road grays, cream alternates, throwback power blues and City Connects). The team's game notes have finally given me an answer.

Following Sunday's game, here is how the team has performed in each uniform in 2024:

• Home pinstripes: 17-4

• Road grays: 20-14

• Cream alternates: 8-5

• Powder blues: 2-1

• City Connects: 4-2

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