July 19, 2024

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Zack Wheeler exits game against Dodgers early with lower back injury – NBC Sports Philadelphia

Zack Wheeler exits game against Dodgers early with lower back injury – NBC Sports Philadelphia

Philadelphia ace Zack Wheeler sat out the sixth inning after practicing for a home run in the fifth against the Dodgers on Tuesday night. The team announced he left the game with a lower back injury.

Oh oh.

But by the end of the game, everyone in the Philadelphia locker room was breathing a sigh of relief, and not just because they had beaten the second-best team in the National League, 10-1. They were also fortunate this year that injuries to first baseman Bryce Harper, designated hitter Kyler Schwarber, center fielder Brandon Marsh, third baseman Alec Bohm and Suarez were less serious than initially feared.

They are cautiously optimistic that they may have escaped another bullet.

“We had a long deficit in the fourth inning,” manager Rob Thompson said. “We scored six runs and then they made a pitcher change. He sat out a long time and his back was sore. So we were able to get through the fifth inning and get him out. As a precaution. I assume he’ll start his next game on Sunday.”

Wheeler was a little more cautious in his self-diagnosis, noting that this had been an ongoing issue in his past few starts.

Asked if he expected to start the last game before the All-Star break, he said: “That’s our goal. I’m going to try to start the next game. It’s been bothering me a little bit here and there lately. Things happen. I just had to deal with it and process it a little bit. We just have to take it day by day and see how it goes. Just play it safe and go from there.”

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The 34-year-old became Philadelphia’s third baseman, joining Ranger Suarez and Aaron Nola, with 10 wins. It’s the first time in club history that three starters have hit double figures before a break. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Red Sox and Astros did it in 2018. The last National League team to do so was the Dodgers in 2014.

Wheeler has an average of 2.70 earned runs. Losing him for any amount of time would obviously be a big loss, especially for a team that already has veterans Taijuan Walker and Spencer Turnbull on the injured list, Michael Mercado made his big league debut last week in Chicago and Tyler Phillips will do the same Saturday against Oakland.

He was working to close out two hits Tuesday night before Dodgers third baseman Cavan Biggio fired a solo home run to right and center. That was followed by passes to designated hitter Shohei Otani and catcher Will Smith — the only two balls he played in the game — before first baseman Freddie Freeman got the outfielder to walk off, ending the inning.

He was named to the All-Star team for the second time in his career this season, but was held out of the game because he was scheduled to start on Sunday.

“It’s disappointing, but that’s what happened. You can’t do anything about it. At the end of your career, it feels good (to be on the All-Star team). But my goal is to do well every time. If I do that, hopefully we’ll get to where we want to be at the end of the year, which is to win the World Series,” he said.

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