September 21, 2023

Phillies able to win season series vs. Dodgers on walk-off


Eric Hartline/USA TODAY

That was not even close to how the Phillies drew it up. The Dodgers came to South Philly for the weekend, and their pitching dominated the Phillies offense. However, the Phillies were able to salvage the three-game series and win the season series thanks to a walk-off on Sunday afternoon.

Game summaries

The Phils opened the weekend series with a deflating loss on Friday night. Julio Urias was on the bump for Los Angeles, and Ranger Suarez started for Philadelphia. Bryce Harper was not in the lineup for game one of this series.

Suarez struggled to put batters away after being ahead in the count, which inflated his pitch count. Ultimately, he had to be pulled after 84 pitches through just three innings. He walked two Dodgers and struck out five. Urias, on the other hand, was phenomenal. He faced just two batters over the minimum in the five innings that he threw.

Nick Nelson and James Norwood threw four scoreless innings to keep the Phillies within striking distance, but the back end of the Dodgers’ bullpen shut down the Phillies easily. The Phillies had just four hits through the first 8.2 innings of play. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, the Phillies began a rally off of Dodgers’ reliever Phil Bickford, but Dave Roberts brought Craig Kimbrel in to put out the fire. Odubel Herrera, the tying run, fished for a breaking ball in the dirt for strike three.

After the 4-1 Phillies loss on Friday, the Phightins got out to an early lead, but the Dodgers scored six unanswered runs to hand the Phillies their second loss of the series. In the second inning, Jean Segura hit an RBI double off of Dodgers’ starter Mitch White, and Alec Bohm followed with a two-run home run an inning later. Kyle Schwarber hit his tenth home run of the season off of veteran David Price to extend the Phils’ lead.

Aaron Nola got the start for the Phillies and looked good early in the game. He allowed just one run through the first 4.2 innings, but Mookie Betts doubled and Will Smith homered to make it a tied ballgame.

Unfortunately, the entire Phillies bullpen struggled with their command. Gavin Lux hit an RBI single to take the lead in the top of the eighth. A few pitches later, Seranthony Dominguez threw one past J.T. Realmuto to allow another run to come home.

For the second night in a row, the Phillies were handed a loss from Dodgers’ closer Craig Kimbrel after being shut down in the ninth inning.

Zach Eflin and Tony Gonsolin toed the rubber for their respected teams on Sunday, and neither of them disappointed. Zach Eflin had a career-high 12 strikeouts over seven innings, and Tony Gonsolin allowed just three hits and one run over six frames.

Aside from solo home runs from Mookie Betts and Edwin Rios, Zach Eflin was perfect. His curveball was sharp, and it served as an excellent putaway pitch. He threw nearly double the curveballs in today’s start than he does in most of his outings. Unfortunately, the only run support that he got was a solo home run from Garrett Stubbs.

With two outs in the ninth, the Phillies were down by a run. Nick Castellanos doubled, and Jean Segura singled after Kyle Schwarber was walked intentionally. This gave the Phils a one-run lead and forced the game to go into extras.

With the Dodgers leading by one in the bottom of the tenth, Garrett Stubbs beat out an infield single, but J.T. Realmuto was baited into an out by Dodgers’ third baseman Justin Turner.

Johan Camargo struck out looking, but Roman Quinn came through with a two-out single. Garrett Stubbs slid into third safely, and Roman Quinn advanced to second on the throw. Alec Bohm came to the plate and hit a routine grounder right at Max Muncy. At this point, Muncy could not have made his day much worse, as he was 0-4 with two strikeouts. Nonetheless, he made it happen—the roller went under his glove, and it trickled towards the outfield grass. Roman Quinn scored from second, and the Phils salvaged the series thanks to their first walk-off victory of the season.

A new Philly killer

After a disappointing 2021 season, Mookie Betts looks like himself again, and he made sure to let the entire city of Philadelphia know that he is back. Betts was 5-13 in this series with four RBIs and a pair of home runs. Now, he has an OPS of .888 in 2022. He is hitting .286 against the Phillies, and four of his ten home runs were hit against the Phillies.

Memorable moments

While the series did not have the result that we were looking for, we saw a lot of cool moments on and off the field. Bryce Harper traded hats with a young Phillies supporter, and Nick Castellanos shared a wholesome moment with his son.

Zach Eflin has had an inconsistent start to his 2022 season, but he delivered on Sunday. He was punching Dodger out left and right, as he had a career-high twelve strikeouts over seven innings. He allowed two solo home runs in his outing, but he was almost perfect the rest of the game. He utilized his curveball much more than usual, and his sinker had enough bite to get Eflin ahead in counts. He commanded all of his pitches and was able to pitch to contact later in the game. It is without a doubt that this was Eflin’s best start of the season, and it could not have come at a better time.

On Sunday, Phillies’ backup catcher Garrett Stubbs hit his first career home run. He sent a no-doubter into the stands in right field. Stubbs, who is known as a defensive catcher, made his major league debut in 2019, yet he only has 102 career at-bats in the big leagues. Stubbs is now hitting .400 for the season, and he has gotten a hit in seven of his eight starts.

Is J.T.’s job in jeopardy?

J.T. Realmuto has not been good, and we can no longer overlook it. He is only hitting .127 in May, and his season average is down to just .224. He has been struggling with runners in scoring position, as he has only driven in nine runs thus far. His strikeout rate has skyrocketed, and he cannot find his swing. He has been experimenting with different stances and leg kicks, but nothing has been working. So, this leads us to wonder whether Garrett Stubbs could see increased playing time as the season progresses.

Stubbs has had a good 2022, but he does not have the accolades (or the salary) that Realmuto touts. With this said, I do not think that Realmuto’s job is in jeopardy yet. However, I do not think it is out of the picture. If Realmuto does not cut down on the strikeouts and adjust his approach, Stubbs and Realmuto could end up splitting the role behind the plate.

Harper’s return

Bryce Harper returned to the Phillies’ lineup on Saturday after being out the entire week because of a PRP shot. He cannot play in the outfield yet, but he was cleared to return as a designated hitter. He was just 1-8 in the series, but he hit a few balls hard that were caught. His one hit was a hard line drive that he hit the other way for a single. Most importantly, his timing does not seem to be off after the six days off. Harper is expected to play every day moving forward.

The Phillies will head to Atlanta for their first matchup against the Braves this season.

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