Dark clouds hung over the unlit gray bell at Citizens Bank Park to open a four-game series between the Nationals and Phillies. The rain poured down for hours as fans sat in the stands of the stadium anxiously awaiting baseball to return.
Ultimately, they were let down, as they only saw one-half of game one.
But the gloomy evening did not set the Phillies’ tone in this series. The Phillies hit fourteen home runs, and the pitching staff continued to pitch deep into ballgames. The Phillies won the first two of the series against the Nationals’ two toughest pitchers and cruised through games three and four against a struggling Patrick Corbin and an inexperienced Cory Abbott.
In game one, nine total runs were scored, both pitchers threw a complete game, and the game took less than two hours.
Well, not really; immense thunder and lighting shortened the game to five innings, which is just enough for a game to be officially completed. Noah Syndergaard threw all five innings for the Phillies and surrendered four runs on eleven hits.
Despite the Nationals’ early lead, Alec Bohm and Rhys Hoskins took Nats starter Paolo Espino yard to give the Phillies a lead.
In the top of the fourth—the last inning of play—Noah Syndergaard got into some trouble, but a clutch outfield assist from Nick Castellanos kept the Phillies in the lead before the long-tenured downpours arrived.
Rhys Hoskins, Nick Castellanos, and Darick Hall each homered in the first inning to give the Phillies an early lead. J.T. Realmuto joined the slugfest in the bottom of the third when his two-run blast advanced the Phillies’ lead to six.
The Phillies got on the board early and alleviated some of the pressure to be perfect, but Kyle Gibson still stole the show. Gibson had a perfect game going into the seventh inning, and he threw eight impressive innings of two-hit ball.
Gibson used had great control of his fastballs and reserved his slider as a swing-and-miss pitch, which was a simple but effective strategy against the Nationals.
And you cannot have an offensively-heavy game without Kyle Schwarber going deep. So as you might expect, he pulled a home run into the stands off Victor Arano in the seventh inning, giving the Phillies an extra run to help them secure their 7-2 win.
Once again, the Phillies scored early in Saturday’s contest, putting the game out of reach for the Nationals. Patrick Corbin, a guy the Phillies wanted to sign to a multi-year contract worth millions of dollars just a few years ago, did not even make it out of the first inning before being relieved by Jordan Weems.
Rhys Hoskins’ and Matt Vierling’s home runs gave the Phillies a four-run lead, and Bryson Stott his first career triple to help force Patrick Corbin out of the game.
J.T. Realmuto, Nick Castellanos, and Edmundo Sosa each had RBI knocks to help add on, and Jean Segura started to find his groove after his return from the injured list.
Ranger Suarez, the winning pitcher in game three, allowed three runs in 5.1 innings as he continued to improve since being cleared from back spasms. Two of the three runs he allowed weren’t surrendered while he was on the bump, so the box score does not display how good he was through the first five innings.
Even without J.T. Realmuto and Jean Segura scratched into Sunday’s lineup, the Phillies put up a series-high 13 runs and held the Nationals to just one. Aaron Nola allowed just one run through six innings, blowing his sinker by lefties and fooling righties with his curveball.
Darick Hall left the yard twice, and Nick Maton recorded three hits and four RBI in his first start since being recalled from Lehigh Valley. Rhys Hoskins hit a home run for the fourth game in a row, and Brandon Marsh hit a sharp line-drive single into centerfield to notch his first RBI as a Phillie.
The Phillies’ 13 runs were plenty to secure the game-four victory and the series sweep of the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park.
Solid starting pitching
Old-timers love to preach that defense wins championships. While the defense was indeed good this past series, the gutsy performances from the four Phillies starters that toed the rubber this weekend will make the biggest difference in the long run. The offense was the reason the Phillies won in this series, but solid outings from Noah Syndergaard, Kyle Gibson, Ranger Suarez, and Aaron Nola let Rob Thomson save his bullpen, keeping them fresh for the upcoming series with the Marlins.
Noah Syndergaard was not his sharpest in his Phillies debut, but he allowed a lot of bloopers that turned into Nationals’ runs. He got behind some hitters, inflating his pitch count in the first three innings. But he did show glimpses of his dominating curveball being a successful pitch with two strikes.
Kyle Gibson had everything working for him in his best start as a Phillie. The 2021 all-star threw eight innings in a game for the first time since the middle of June, and Friday was the first time that any starting pitcher on the Phillies carried a perfect game into the seventh inning all season.
Gibson’s catcher, J.T. Realmuto, put it in the simplest terms: “Kyle was fun.” Realmuto went on to highlight that Gibson was constantly attacking and getting ahead of opposing batters.
Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez mentioned that “His two-seamer was really good… He didn’t throw a slider for a strike until, like, the third time through the order.”
Ranger Suarez and Aaron Nola didn’t have copious amounts of pressure on them with all the runs the Phillies put on the board, but they both battled into the sixth inning and helped to save the Phils’ bullpen ahead of a series against a superb Marlins pitching staff.
Relying on the long ball
As the Phillies hitters are beginning to heat up, the air in South Philadelphia is, too. And we all know what that means: The ball is carrying. The Phillies hit fourteen home runs in the four-game weekend series, which is good for a franchise record. The record was broken quickly, but the Phillies had thirteen at Wrigley Field last season.
And while the heat does help, you cannot ignore the fact that many of the Phillies’ players have been finding more barrels lately. Nick Castellanos has been making much harder contact since the all-star break, and Rhys Hoskins has begun one of his hot streaks where he drives the ball all over the field.
As the Marlins arrive in Philly, the Phillies will look to continue their offensive success against an elite pitching staff that includes the favorite for the NL Cy Young Award.