By Sam Bush
Rhys Hoskins hit a two-run homer, Zach Eflin threw seven sharp innings and the Phillies beat the Minnesota Twins 2-1.
Eflin (2-0) allowed a leadoff homer to Max Kepler and five singles, striking out five.
”It was nice to squeak out seven,” Eflin said. ”The action on my sinker and change-up were working. I didn’t have my best slider.”
Jose Berrios (1-1) gave up only an infield hit before Hoskins connected. He had seven strikeouts in six innings.
Bryce Harper was 0 for 2 with two walks and stole a base. Phillies left fielder Andrew McCutchen made a perfect one-hop throw to the plate to prevent Marwin Gonzalez from scoring on Ehire Adrianza’s single in the third.
David Robertson got two outs in the eighth and Adam Morgan finished the inning. Hector Neris tossed a perfect ninth for his first save since last Sept. 18 against the Mets.
”Hector was spectacular,” Kapler said.
Neris was the Phils’ closer until he got demoted to the minors after struggling last season. He pitched well after returning to the majors and is part of a closer-by-committee bullpen.
”I just come in and try to do my job whether it’s the ninth, eighth, sixth inning,” Neris said.
Kepler gave the Twins a 1-0 lead when he drove a fastball into the seats in right-center for his first career leadoff homer. He went deep in each game of the series.
Hoskins fouled off three straight 3-2 pitches in the sixth before launching his third homer into the flower bed just over the left-center field wall.
”I missed a few pitches previously,” he said. ”I was able to get barrel to the ball and got enough of it to get it out.”
Berrios’ pitch was in a good spot, down and away.
”Jose made a nice pitch,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. ”He’s a good hitter and he put it over the fence. Jose threw the ball really well.”
After averaging 8.2 runs in their first six games, the Phillies have only scored four in the last two.