Phillies-Astros: 5 things you need to know

Phillies-Astros: 5 things you need to know

Offense breaks out in Wednesday's win

August 7, 2014, 2:00 pm
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Phillies vs. Astros
7:05 p.m. on CSN

The Phillies have won consecutive home series for the first time all season, and on Thursday night they look for their third sweep of the year at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phils outlasted the Astros on Tuesday and dominated them on Wednesday, and they now seek their first three-game sweep of Houston since the opening series of 2011.

Here are five things you need to know about the series finale:

1. It starts at the top
Ben Revere, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard were a combined 10 for 18 with two doubles, a triple, a homer, five RBIs and seven runs scored on Wednesday night.

Revere has hit .381 with 53 hits over his last 35 games to raise his average to .309.

Utley and Howard are having solid series after combining for just two hits on the recent road trip. Utley has reached base six times in 11 tries in the series, and Howard is 4 for 10 with a homer, a double and four RBIs.

2. All singles
The Astros have one extra-base hit in the series in 91 plate appearances, a Matt Dominguez double off David Buchanan. Aside from that, it's been all singles for a slumping Houston team.

Former Phillies prospect Jon Singleton has had a rough go of it in his first big-league season, hitting .191 with 76 strikeouts in just 194 at-bats. He does have 10 home runs, which bodes well for the future, but he's whiffed too much, especially for a team that already has Chris Carter.

3. Hernandez was hot
Roberto Hernandez had been in line to start the finale but was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday afternoon (see story).

The 33-year-old used four straight brilliant outings to improve to 6-8 with a 3.87 ERA on the year. Over those four starts, he has a 1.88 ERA and his opponents have hit .170.

Hernandez pitched better than expected as the Phillies' No. 5 starter. He's induced groundballs like he was brought in to do -- 77 over his last six games -- and kept his opponents to a .237 batting average on the year.

4. The book on McHugh
Collin McHugh has finally found success in his third year. After failing with the Mets and fizzling with the Rockies, McHugh has struck out 107 batters in 95 innings this season and posted a 3.32 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 16 starts.

The 27-year-old righty was an 18th-round pick by the Mets in 2008. He had an 8.94 ERA in 15 appearances in the bigs entering this year, but found an opportunity in Houston and seized it.

McHugh throws a fastball, curveball and slider, and he sometimes mixes in changeups. His heater averages 92.5 mph, but his main weapon is the hook, which has held hitters to a .105 batting average and 40 percent whiff rate.

5. Well-rested 'pen
After using the bullpen for eight innings on Tuesday night, Ryne Sandberg was able to stay away from most of his main guys on Wednesday. Jake Diekman, Justin De Fratus and Cesar Jimenez totaled 2 2/3 shutout innings but threw just 30 total pitches in the second straight win.

That gives the Phils' bullpen 10 2/3 shutout frames for the series. On Tuesday, the Phillies' relief corps became the first in recorded history -- dating back to 1900 -- to pitch at least eight shutout innings with at least 14 strikeouts and no more than one hit allowed.

Jonathan Papelbon and Ken Giles should be good to go again tonight as the Phils look to close out the sweep.

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