Final score: Phillies 7, Nationals 6
When the New York Mets lost to the Miami Marlins Thursday afternoon, the Philadelphia Phillies suddenly had a golden opportunity. A win over the Washington Nationals not only would have capped off a four-game sweep and a 5-2 road trip; it would put them half a game back of the Mets, needing only a series victory to leapfrog them in the NL East standings.
For the first three innings of the game, it seemed like the Phillies would capitalize on said opportunity. For the next five, it didn’t.
Unfortunately for the Nationals, though, baseball is a game of nine innings, and the last one counted most: A pair of two-out two-run doubles were just what the Phillies needed to pull off yet another improbable comeback, picking up the sweep to enter the weekend breathing down the Mets’ collective neck in the division standings.
Ronald Torreyes got the Phillies going early, singling up the middle to score Rhys Hoskins with two outs in the second inning. As Phillies Nation‘s Jonny Heller noted, Torreyes’ hit moved his batting average to .342 in tie games and .333 with runners in scoring position.
Nola was able to make that lead hold up by wiggling out of a second-inning jam. After a Nola error and Carter Kieboom double put two in scoring position with one out, the righty punched out Luis García and induced a Tres Barrera lineout to keep the Nats off the board.
The following half inning saw more promising developments for the Phillies. Just when you thought Bryce Harper couldn’t get much hotter, he did, roping a 427-foot solo home run to dead center field. Not only did it double the lead, it was also a personal milestone: The homer was No. 250 of Harper’s career, and it came at the stadium he called home for the first 184. At the time, it raised his second-half slugging percentage to a staggering .754 — third best in the National League.
Quicker than the Phillies built the lead, though, the Nationals erased it. Nola suddenly lost his command in the third, and two walks, a hit batter and a pair of hits later, the Nationals tied things up at two. It could have been worse; Nola got Victor Robles swinging to leave the bases loaded.
But things didn’t get much better for Nola thereafter. A leadoff single by Alcides Escobar and subsequent walk by Juan Soto set the stage for Josh Bell, who hit a bullet three-run homer to center field that put the Phillies down 5-2. Nola was certainly hurt by a blown 1-2 call against Soto that extended the plate appearance, but it was his own command on a 1-2 hanging curve to Bell that really sunk him.
Enyel De Los Santos came on in relief of Nola and put runners on the corners with one out, but a pickoff and a groundout helped him keep the deficit at three.
Juan Soto, for his part, made sure it stayed there in the top of the seventh by making an incredible catch to rob Didi Gregorius of a solo homer. The Phillies ended up scoring in the inning after Alec Bohm doubled and Odúbel Herrera singled him home, and two walks put them in business for more, but they left the bases loaded on a J.T. Realmuto flyout.
Quite the wacky play ended the bottom of the seventh. With runners on first and second and two outs, García hit a grounder up the middle, and Torreyes made a backhanded diving stop before flipping to Gregorius at second. Kieboom barely beat the throw, but Gregorius alertly fired home to nab Yadiel Hernández attempting to score from second.
That extra run would’ve gone a long way for the Nationals. The Phillies put runners on second and third with two outs for Realmuto, and where some fans were thinking “get Harper to the plate,” Realmuto had higher aspirations. Down to his last strike, he lined a two-run double to right center field to tie things up at five.
Immediately after, Harper was intentionally walked, and Hoskins came through with a two-run double of his own to give the Phillies a miraculous 7-5 lead.
Things got dicey in the ninth. The Nationals eventually made it 7-6 with the tying run on second and one out, but Archie Bradley finished the job for a heart-stopping victory.
Shibe Vintage Sports Starting Pitching Performance
Joe Ross: 6.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 7 SO, 84 pitches
If unspectacular, Ross was generally effective in his third start against the Phillies this season. He benefitted from great defense, both from Soto’s robbery and his own double play on a live-drive comebacker by Rhys Hoskins in the sixth. His ERA jumped just a couple ticks to 4.02.
Aaron Nola: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 7 SO, 99 pitches
Nola had been showing signs he was back to his old self in his last two outings (14.2 innings, three runs combined), and that trend continued across the first three frames. However, Nola ran into a brick wall in the fourth, and he never rediscovered his command. His ERA ends the day at 4.49.
Phillies Nugget Of The Game
Thursday was yet another episode in a series of miracle comeback wins over the Nationals this year. On May 12, the Phillies tied it with one out in the ninth to ultimately win in extras. Andrew McCutchen walked them off with a three-run homer down two runs on July 26. Three days later, the Phillies erased a 7-0 lead, ultimately winning on a Brad Miller walk-off grand slam. They scored five in the ninth on Monday for a 7-5 win. And then, of course, there was Thursday.
Ticket IQ Next Game
- Friday, August 6 vs. New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park
- 7:05 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN, NBC Sports Philadelphia
- Radio: SportsRadio 94 WIP
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