2019 Postgame Recaps

Hernandez delivers in the ninth as Phillies earn emotional victory


Cesar Hernandez delivered the game winning hit in the ninth.

Final: Phillies 6, Braves 5

The Phillies desperately needed a bounce back performance after suffering their most devastating loss of the season after an epic bullpen collapse. It looked promising at first. The Phillies had the lead early on and Aaron Nola was on his way to delivering a quality start. That changed when Josh Donaldson launched a three-run home run in the fifth and gave the Braves the lead.

It all changed again when Cesar Hernandez drove in two runs to give the Phillies a 6-5 lead in the ninth. After earning what might as well be their most important victory of the season, the Phillies are now 1.5 games back in the NL East and are set for a rubber match Sunday afternoon.

The Braves continued to impose their will on offense and threatened in the first. With Dansby Swanson on with two men out, Josh Donaldson dropped in a single that came in and out of the sliding Bryce Harper’s glove. Gabe Kapler opted to challenge the call on the field of a hit and as quickly as he signaled for the challenge, the call was confirmed and the skipper’s ability to challenge again was taken away. The next batter, Nick Markakis, struck out looking at a well placed fastball on the outside corner from starter Aaron Nola, stranding both Donaldson and Nick Markakis.

The Phillies responded with a threat of their own. With two on and one out, eight-hole hitter Cesar Hernandez struck out swinging at what should have been ball four. Sean Rodriguez, the runner at first, was running on the 3-2 count and drew a throw to second from Braves catcher Tyler Flowers. Scott Kingery then darted for home and was called out, effectively ending the half inning.

The Braves followed up in their half inning with an Austin Riley home run into the Braves  bullpen in left. The round tripper was the 22-year-old Memphis-born rookie’s 11th of the season and the first of his career against the Phillies:

The Phils responded quickly in the third. Jay Bruce was able to drive in a run off an error from Donaldson with the bases loaded and two away. The red hot Scott Kingery was up next and of course, he delivered in a clutch situation with a two-run double. Bruce tried to score from first, but was tagged out trying to sneak a hand behind Flowers at home.

A scary scene unfolded earlier in the inning, however. J.T. Realmuto scorched a line drive onto the side of the head of Braves starter Sean Newcomb. Newcomb was lifted from the game and sent to concussion protocol. Luckily the 26-year-old was aware, able to get up and walked to the dugout on his own:

 

As expected, the Braves immediately trimmed at the Phillies lead. Ronald Acuna, who’s thrived ever since he was moved from the clean-up to the lead-off spot in May, began the inning with a seemingly innocent knock to right that got through Harper’s glove. After a productive ground ball out from Dansby Swanson, Freddie Freeman drove in another Atlanta run off a ground ball to the right side. The back-and-forth play continued in the top of the fourth with a Cesar Hernandez home run into the Chop House in right field:

 

Fortunately, Nola was able stop the half-inning scoring streak in this game to four with a scoreless half inning. In that half inning, however, Nick Williams came into the game to replace Jay Bruce. According to NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Gregg Murphy, it appears that Bruce may have suffered a minor hamstring injury and that Kapler’s decision to take him out of the ballgame was precautionary in nature.

The scoring resumed in the fifth. With two on, one out, and Nola near the end of his outing, Donaldson got a hold of a changeup in the middle of the plate and sent the ball into the second deck in right. The 26-year-old was then lifted from the game after another disappointing outing:  

For the remainder of the game, the bullpen kept the Phillies within a run as J.D. Hammer, Juan Nicasio, Jose Alvarez, and Edubray Ramos all prevented the Braves from crossing the plate. The lineup did not enjoy the same kind of success for the most of the latter portion of the game. That all changed in the ninth. Kingery began with a lead-off single and Rodriguez followed up with a beautiful bunt. The throw from the catcher Flowers was off line and both men ended up in scoring position. Then with a 3-2 count, Hernandez delivered with a single into left, driving in two runs and giving the Phillies a 6-5 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth. Hector Neris sealed the game with a redemption save and the Phillies escaped with the victory:

Shibe Vintage Sports Starting Pitching Performance

Aaron Nola: 4.1 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 4 SO

After a devastating loss in Game 1 of the series, the Phillies needed Aaron Nola to be great. He wasn’t. He only managed to walk 2 batters, but often fell behind hitters and had little command of the strike zone. The dagger in the heart came in the fifth when Donaldson absolutely crushed a three-run home run to give the Braves a one run lead. Both the Phillies and Nola are desperately in need of a shut down performance reminiscent of his historic 2018 season during this upcoming long stretch of games against NL East rivals before the all-star break. Nola needs it for the sake of confidence going into the second half of the season and the Phillies need it as reassurance that their ace can pitch like an ace when they need him to.

 

Sean Newcomb: 2.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3, SO

Just like Nola, Newcomb’s pitch count was high near the end of his outing. Before suffering a head injury, he allowed two unearned runs and was aiming to get Realmuto out to end the third. He was met with a ball to the side of his skull and his outing was cut short. As mentioned before, Newcomb was fortunately able to leave the game on his own.

Phillies Nuggets Player of the Game: Cesar Hernandez  

With 3 RBIs, including the game winner, Hernandez is indeed tonight’s player of the game. Hernandez seems to be fitting into the eight-hole just as well as Maikel Franco had in April. His home run in the fourth was key, but his clutch base hit in the ninth is a defining hit in the Phillies season so far.

Ticket IQ Next Game

  • Saturday June 16th, 1:20 P.M. vs. the Atlanta Braves @ SunTrust Park
  • NBC Sports Philadelphia
  • SportsRadio 94 WIP; WTTM 1680 (Spanish)

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