Zack Wheeler leaves Dodgers game early with lower back pain – NBC Sports Philadelphia

Phillies starter Zack Wheeler, who played a two-hit shutout with two outs and no one on base in the fifth inning against the Dodgers on Tuesday night, did not play in the sixth inning. The team announced he was leaving the game with a tight left lower back.

Oh oh.

By the end of the game, everyone in the Phillies clubhouse breathed a sigh of relief, and not just because they had trounced the team with the second-best record in the National League, 10-1. They’ve been fortunate this year in that injuries to first baseman Bryce Harper, designated hitter Kyler Schwarber, outfielder Brandon Marsh, third baseman Alec Bohm and Suarez all turned out to be less serious than initially feared.

And they are cautiously optimistic that they may have dodged another bullet.

“We had that long bottom of the fourth,” manager Rob Thomson said. “We scored the six runs and they made a pitching change. He sat out a long time and his back got a little stiff. So we got him through the fifth and we pulled him out. Precautionary. I assume he’ll make (his next start on Sunday).”

Wheeler was only slightly more cautious in his self-diagnosis, noting that this had been a persistent problem in his last few starts.

Asked if he expects to start the final game before the All-Star break, he played it a little soft. “That’s our goal,” he said. “I’ll try to make my next start. It’s been bugging me a little bit lately. Things happen. I’ve just had to deal with it and deal with it a little bit. We’ve just got to take it day by day and see how it goes. Just play it safe and go from there.”

The 34-year-old right-handed pitcher became the third Phillies starter, after Ranger Suarez and Aaron Nola, to reach 10 wins. It’s the first time in Phillies history that the club has had three starters reach double-digit wins before the break. The Red Sox and Astros did it in 2018, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The last National League team to do so was the Dodgers in 2014.

Wheeler’s earned run average is 2.70. It would obviously be a huge loss to lose him for any length of time, especially for a team that already has veteran starters Taijuan Walker and Spencer Turnbull on the injured list, saw Michael Mercado make his first big-league start last week in Chicago and Tyler Phillips is scheduled to do the same on Saturday against Oakland.

He worked a two-hit shutout Tuesday night before Dodgers third baseman Cavan Biggio hit a solo homer to right-center. That was followed by walks to DH Shohei Ohtani and catcher Will Smith — his only two base on balls of the game — before he got first baseman Freddie Freeman to ground out to end the inning.

He was selected to the All-Star team for the second time in his career this season, but unfortunately could not participate in the game as he was scheduled to start on Sunday.

“It’s disappointing, but it’s just the way it went. You can’t really do anything about it,” he said. “At the end of your career, it’s a good thing (to make the All-Star team). But my goal is to do it right every time. If I do that, hopefully by the end of the year we’ll be where we want to be and that’s winning the World Series.”

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