KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- One ancillary benefit to Zach Eflin tossing a complete game on Saturday night and Cole Irvin going seven innings in his big-league debut Sunday: The Phillies were able to rest their bullpen.
This week, they will probably need it.
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After going 4-2 on a six-game road trip through Missouri, the Phillies will return to Citizens Bank Park on Monday night to open a four-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers, a playoff team last season and one of the top contenders in the National League. It figures to be an early-season test for the Phillies, who have won 10 of their last 14 games and have a three-game lead over the Atlanta Braves in the NL East.
"They're one of the best teams in the National League," catcher J.T. Realmuto said of the Brewers. "Probably going to be a postseason team, in my opinion, so it'll be fun to see where we stack up. It's going to be an exciting series. We're definitely looking forward to it."
Phillies hitters will undoubtedly be happy to be home. They went a combined 45-for-202 (.223) with only three home runs in the six games in St. Louis and Kansas City. In particular, the latter is a difficult hitting environment because of Kauffman Stadium's cavernous dimensions.
The Phillies still managed to score 30 runs in the six games in part because they drew 25 walks. On Sunday, they scored six runs in the fifth inning by taking advantage of Royals mistakes, including an error by shortstop Adalberto Mondesi and three walks by starter Jakob Junis.
“That’s kind of how our offense is built,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “Sometimes we’re going to go stretches without hitting the ball out of the ballpark. During those stretches, we can still take our walks and keep the line moving and that’s what we’ve done.”
The Brewers got off to a 7-1 start but had gone only 17-16 since entering their Sunday Night Baseball showdown with the Cubs at Wrigley Field. But they will present a tough lineup for the Phillies, including reigning NL MVP Christian Yelich, who was leading the majors with 16 home runs and a .762 slugging percentage.