Alec Bohm, Phillies rally in dramatic fashion to best Orioles originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
The Phillies have been looking for a sign that they can get their season back on track after a couple weeks of leaking oil, emitting billows of noxious exhaust and veering aimlessly from lane to lane.
They thought the baseball gods may have gifted them with an omen when, in the top of the second Tuesday night, starting pitcher Taijuan Walker had the bases loaded and nobody out with one run already in … then pitched out of trouble without allowing another run. Turned out it wasn’t.
They hoped it could have been when Bryce Harper electrified the crowd of 37,200 with a laser beam homer into the right centerfield bleachers to tie the score in the bottom of the sixth. But the Orioles recaptured the lead.
Nick Castellanos made an unreal running catch to rob Baltimore second baseman Adam Frazier’s bullet to right in the eighth and possibly save a run. “Incredible. I thought he had no shot,” manager Rob Thomson said. But they still trailed by a run going into the bottom of the ninth.
It remains to be seen whether their dramatic rally for a 4-3 win will be the catalyst that sets this team on another magic carpet ride like that one that got them back into contention and set them up for a deep postseason run last season.
Until events prove them wrong, they’re going to assume it is.
The alternative would have been a sixth loss in their last seven games. It would have ensured their third straight series loss. It would have dug them a little deeper into a hole of their own making with the dog days of August loudly barking straight ahead.
Instead, they rallied to beat Orioles closer Yennier Cano, who came into the game with a 1.48 earned run average.
Instead, Harper singled with one out and the cosmic tumblers began falling into place. With two outs, down to their last gasp, Bryson Stott rifled a double into the rightfield corner. Harper was going to try to score come hell or high water and the Phillies got a break when the throw from Cotton Cowser short-hopped the relay man. The score was tied.
“We caught a break there,” Thomson said. “The ball came out of the corner pretty quickly so I thought there would be a play at the plate.”
Extra innings seemed be inevitable when J.T. Realmuto , who had struck out his first three at bats, hit a soft roller to shortstop. But Jorge Mateo double-clutched. Realmuto ran hard all the way and beat barely beat the throw. The Orioles appealed but, after a review, the call was confirmed.
All that was left then was for Alec Bohm to roll a single to left and the Phillies had a much-needed victory.
“It’s a big win,” the manager said. “That big rally in the ninth inning, hopefully that sparks the offense a little bit. That’s a huge win for us against (the team with the second-best record in baseball.”
Harper started at first base Tuesday night. He’s been alternating between first and DH since he made his first start in the infield. Thomson said he expects him to be able to start back-to-back games at first soon.
Harper tried to keep the win in perspective. “We’ve got a long way to go,” he pointed out. “Of course, you want to win to beat any team that comes in here. So good to get that one.”
The good news is that, even as the Phillies have struggled recently, they haven’t really lost much ground in the wild card race. Coming into play last night they were in a knot with the Reds, Diamondbacks, Marlins and Giants with only a single game separating the five teams.
Miami has lost 11 of 14. Starting play last night Arizona had dropped five straight and nine of 11 while Cincinnati had lost 7 of 12 … and that included a five-gamed winning streak.
The other way of looking at it, of course, is that the Phillies squandered an opportunity to build a cushion in the competition for one of the three NL wild card spots.
Have the Phillies turned themselves around? We’ll have to wait and find out. Starting Wednesday night.
RHP Kyle Bradish (6-5, 3.05) will face LHP Ranger Suarez (2-5, 4.07) in the series finale Wednesday at 6:05.
After an open date, the Phillies will travel to Pittsburgh for a weekend series against the last-place Pirates and then to Miami for four games against the slumping before returning to Citizens Bank Park to face the last-place Royals, last-place Nationals and first-place Twins.