“He’s a real man who hit that ball” – Pache describes the best moment of his career

“He was a real man who hit that ball” – Pache describes the best moment of his career originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

MIAMI — Cristian Pache knew he had it immediately, though the moment moved in slow motion for Phillies fans watching at home.

Two out, ninth inning, on a run to the team with the best single-run record in all of baseball, Pache crushed an 0-1 sweeper to the center field wall for a two-run homer against Marlins more near AJ Puk, a stage that was established by a single JT Realmuto and a double Alec Bohm.

Just like that, the Phillies turned a game they trailed from the second to eighth innings into an invigorating series-opening 4-3 victory over a Miami team that leads the race for National League wildcards. .

“I knew I was hitting well. He was a real man who hit that ball,” a jovial Pache said after the game through interpreter Diego Ettedgui.

Marlins center fielder Dane Myers fell back about 20 feet in an attempt to steal a home run, but Pache had already started celebrating as he approached first base, pointing at a delirious Phillies dugout.

“It’s funny because back in Tampa I told the boys that when I hit the ball out of the park in Miami I was going to jump up and have fun,” Pache said. “And then in my first fight, I actually knocked him out of the park.

“I just wanted to jump because it looks sexy.”

Pache quickly became a fan favorite. Big hits will. Now his personality is starting to show. Some of his teammates, including Brandon Marsh, for whom Pache hit in the ninth inning, were hysterical as they listened to him describe his big outburst to a group of reporters in the clubhouse.

“One of my favorite moments of my career,” he said. “Everyone was super happy, everyone was screaming and shouting. Everyone was super supportive of me from day one. It’s really good to be in a team where as soon as you walk into the clubhouse, everyone’s nice. Even when I’m not in the lineup, I know I’m going to have the opportunity to play in the game, seventh, eighth or ninth inning. It was awesome.

The Phillies acquired Pache from the Athletics in exchange for minor league pitcher Billy Sullivan the day before the regular season began. Just a year earlier, he was the centerpiece of Oakland’s comeback from Atlanta in the Matt Olson trade.

“It was great support from our front office,” said director Rob Thomson. “It really was. He’s a great defender and now he’s starting to swing the bat.”

Pache was a top prospect with the Braves but didn’t hit enough to stick, then struggled in his only season with the A’s. He arrived in Philadelphia with a career batting average of .156 in 332 plate appearances.

He went hitless in his first week as a Phillie, but has had a knack for catching big shots, big extra-base hits ever since. As of April 8, Pache is 14-for-37 (.378) with six doubles, two home runs and seven RBIs.

“Pache, he’s been good when he got the chance,” said Zack Wheeler, who allowed three runs in six innings. “He was the top prospect at one point and he was for a reason. Maybe he just didn’t click with certain teams or whatever, but he still has it in him. I always believe for any type of great prospect I feel like they always have it in them it’s just a matter of hitting it all with the right team or the right situation He fits really well here , having a lot of fun. Enjoying the times and moments he had in there.

Another former top prospect, Jeff Hoffman, secured the win with two scoreless runs in the seventh and eighth before Craig Kimbrel completed his 14th save. Hoffman was the ninth overall pick in the 2014 draft by the Blue Jays. He was traded a year later to the Rockies, then five seasons later to the Reds. After two years in Cincinnati, he signed with the Twins in February, was released in March and landed with the Phillies three days later.

In 19 appearances, Hoffman has a 2.53 ERA. He and Wheeler were sent back to the clubhouse after Pache went deep.

“Me and Hoff were here. It happened, we ran at each other, we slapped each other, we hugged,” Wheeler said. “I think it’s been three times in a row that I’ve spat the hook. So thanks to those guys who are fighting. With the training we have we just can’t stop trying. Thanks to those guys to continue. “

The Phillies’ bullpen is on fire with 25⅓ straight scoreless innings. It’s been the most consistent aspect of their team since opening day. Kimbrel, Jose Alvarado, Gregory Soto, Seranthony Dominguez when healthy, all-rounder Matt Strahm, an emerging Yunior Marte, Hoffman, Andrew Vasquez with a 1.70 ERA — the Phils are deep in quality relief.

“I’ve never been in (a pen) like this,” Hoffman said. “We’ve got some serious thunder there. In our bullpen, pick your poison. It’s really fun to be a part of something like this and I can’t wait to end this first half strong.”

The win was the Phillies’ 13th straight on the road, tying their franchise record. They’re 23-7 since June 3 and 48-39 overall, on the 89-90 win tempo. They trail the Marlins by 1½ games for the top wildcard spot. No more than three games will separate the Marlins, Dodgers, Phillies, Giants and Brewers before Saturday’s action.

The Phils can edge Miami with a sweep. It’s hard to put anything in front of them right now. They’re 21-20 against teams currently in playoff position, and as Trea Turner said Thursday night, they feel like they can hang with anyone.

“It’s a good vibe,” Wheeler said. “Just roll it. Roll it as long as possible in the break and hopefully we can continue after.”

Ranger Suarez and Aaron Nola will start the final two games before the All-Star break, facing a pair of southpaws in Braxton Garrett and Jesus Luzardo.

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