PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Jake Arrieta tossed six shutout innings for his first win in more than a year and Jay Bruce and J.T. Realmuto each homered to lead the Philadelphia Phillies past the Atlanta Braves 5-0 Saturday night.
Arrieta (1-1) tossed three-hit ball and struck out six for his first win since June 30, 2019. He made seven more starts before he was shut down with season-ending surgery on a bone spur in his pitching elbow.
Arrieta, who won the 2015 NL Cy Young Award with the Cubs, was sharp in shutting down the Braves and looked like the ace the Phillies expected when he joined them in 2018. Arrieta made his first start without allowing a run since Aug. 6, 2018.
He had help all around — right fielder Bryce Harper made an outstretched, diving catch in the fifth that earned a fist pump in appreciation from Arrieta.
Realmuto continued his hot streak, homering for the third straight game, with a 427-foot solo shot in the fourth off Braves starter Kyle Wright (0-2). Wright put the next runners on base and Bruce hit a three-run homer to make it 4-0.
Realmuto’s contract expires at the end of the season and, while he hasn’t said much publicly during the season about his desire for a new deal, he might be making more noise than anyone in baseball at the plate. His homer set off the ringing of the Liberty Bell above the outfield bleachers, blasts from air horns and chants of “Sign J.T.!” from a dozen or so fans pressed against a fence outside the stadium.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone complained about the air horn during a series this week to no avail — the dozen or so fans who call themselves the Phandemic Krew are outside Citizens Bank Park, giving the umpires no recourse to make the noise stop.
The four-run fourth was enough to give Arrieta the victory and relievers Jose Alverez, Tommy Hunter and Deolis Guerra combined on three scoreless innings to help the Phillies win their second straight game.
Didi Gregorius added an RBI single in the eighth.
Phillies manager Joe Girardi gave a pretty big clue on one of the worst-kept secrets in the organization: Who will start one game of the doubleheader Sunday against Atlanta?
“I have no official announcement, but you can expect a young right-hander to start tomorrow. I’ll just leave it at that, whose initials are S.H.,” Girardi said.
Prized prospect Spencer Howard is set to make his big league debut on Sunday, a potential big shot in the arm for the Phillies down the stretch. The 24-year-old Howard, a second-round pick in the 2017 draft, is widely considered the Phillies’ top pitching prospect since Aaron Nola or even Cole Hamels. He impressed Harper, who said on a Twitch steam in July, “If Spencer Howard isn’t starting in our rotation by Game 6 in New York against the New York Yankees, there’s a problem. That’s all I’ll say.”
Howard’s bid to crack the rotation was derailed by service issues. The Phillies kept him on their taxi squad in Allentown, Pennsylvania, for enough days to delay his potential free-agency until after the 2026 season.
The Phillies were scheduled to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the 1980 World Series champions. The Phillies made cardboard cutouts of the players — including Pete Rose — and stuck them in the right field seats.
Girardi did not disclose the order of Sunday’s starters but RHP Vince Velasquez (0-0, 12.00 ERA) will take the mound in one of the games. The Braves send LHP Max Fried (2-0, 2.04) to the mound for one start and are TBA for the second.
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