December 9, 2023

Pitching, defense play crucial roll in series win over Marlins


The Phillies made it nerve-wracking, but they also got it done—the most important thing at this stage of the season. They needed everybody, and they used everybody from the 2021 MVP to new reliever Vinny Nittoli. And they each contributed in a series where the Phillies took two of three from the Marlins. Each game was decided by just one run, and two of the three games were won in the ninth inning.

And of course, the Phillies always kept it interesting.

While the game-three loss might highlight this series, the Phillies showed that there are still some wins left in the tank, and the outcome of the series could have been much worse when you consider the pitching matchup of Kyle Gibson and Sandy Alcantara in game three.

Game summaries

As many fans expected, Aaron Nola bounced back in game one after his worst start of the season in Arizona. Nola had each of his pitches working and ended up throwing 6.2 innings of four-hit, one-run ball.

Edmundo Sosa produced the first run, a home run off the left-field foul pole, and scored the second run after a double in the bottom of the sixth.

Brad Hand was relieved for Connor Brogdon with two on and one out, and Brogdon eventually allowed a sac fly that tied the game. After a shaky (but scoreless) ninth inning thrown by David Robertson, the Phillies went to the bottom of the ninth with the game tied.

Bryce Harper hit a weak fly ball that dropped between third base and left field, and Harper extended it into a double. J.T. Realmuto was intentionally walked to set up the double play, and Jean Segura walked it off by singling home Bryce Harper on a line drive to left field.

The Phillies sent Bailey Falter, the Phillies’ most consistent hitter over the past three weeks, to the mound for the second game of three against the Marlins. Falter kept rolling as he threw 5.1 innings and allowed just two runs.

Andrew Bellatti followed by having one of his best performances of the year, throwing 1.2 innings and allowing just one base runner.

Edmundo Sosa, who already had a homer at the beginning of the game, added an insurance run in the seventh by doubling in Matt Vierling; this run became crucial after Jacob Stallings took Connor Brogdon deep in the ninth.

Jean Segura also hit a home run early in the game, helping lead the Phillies to a 4-3 win in game two.

With Sandy Alcantara on the mound, the Phillies attempted to sweep the Marlins out of Philadelphia. Though they even had the sweep perfectly lined up, they ultimately fell short after another ninth-inning collapse.

Kyle Gibson struggled with his command once again, but the Phillies’ offense kept them in the game. Gibson surrendered four earned runs over five innings, scattering nine hits in his performance.

Nick Maton got the Phillies on the board with a solo home run in the third, but the Phils relied on some lucky hitting as the game progressed. Bryson Stott hit a blooper off the end of the bat that found a hole and fell for a double. Later, Alec Bohm hit a line-drive, two-run triple to centerfield that trickled to the wall after J.J. Bleday dove for and missed the ball.

Vinny Nittoli, Sam Coonrod, and Brad Hand kept the Phillies’ lead intact through eight innings, but David Robertson’s struggles paired with poor defense from Rhys Hoskins allowed the Marlins to take the lead.

Dylan Floro forced Jean Segura to roll into a double play, ending the game and gifting himself and the Marlins a win.

More success vs. Alcantara

The odds weren’t in the Phils’ favor, but the Phillies were able to find success against Sandy Alcantara—the frontrunner for the NL Cy Young—for the fourth time this season. Alcantara was coming off one of his poorer starts, allowing six runs over five innings against the Braves last week.

When Alcantara faced the Phillies at the beginning of August, it took them until the eighth inning to find a groove and get some knocks off Miami’s ace.

Alcantara has faced the Phillies more than any other team in baseball, and it seems that the Phillies’ offense figured out how to break him. Out of the five times he faced the Phillies, Alcantara has allowed at least nine Phillies to reach base in four of them.

But this time, the Phillies jumped on him early; And more importantly, they got him out of the game after six innings.

Unfortunately, David Robertson and the Phillies couldn’t deliver a win on a night where they found the code to crack one of the best pitchers in the business.

The Edmundo Sosa Show

Edmundo Sosa did a little more than put on a show in the first two games of this series. Sosa went a combined five for five in six plate appearances in the first two games of this series. He recorded 13 total bases in the series and had four RBI and a pair of home runs.

Rob Thomson referred to Sosa’s performance as “outstanding” in his postgame interview. “…It’s nice to see him playing well,” Thomson added.

And it hasn’t been just this series where Sosa has found success. Quietly, he has been one of the team’s best hitters since being traded from St. Louis. Since joining the Phillies, Sosa is slashing .357/.391/.667 in 42 at-bats.

Ups and downs

While the scores may seem normal, this was an odd series in various ways. It is known that baseball has so many caveats and abnormal circumstances that a casual fan is unaware of, making this series a tough one to reflect on for the average eye. But really, there were a lot of little things to it.

Defense undoubtedly earned the Phillies a victory in game two, but a costly error by Rhys Hoskins in the top of the ninth of game three put David Robertson in a challenging position to battle through.

J.J. Bleday, one of the Marlins’ young outfielders, had a disastrous fifth inning defensively, and the Phillies scored two unearned runs because of his miscue in the field. But Miguel Rojas and Jon Berti made two spectacular plays to shut down the Phillies in the ninth.

Obviously, errors will happen, but it’s very atypical to see two teams struggle in different areas each game. And when they are playing each other, it’s definitely weird to watch. Rob Thomson complimented his team’s defense in game one but acknowledged Hoskins’ overly-aggressive play at the end of game three.

As the inconsistencies continue and the possibility of ending the longest postseason drought in the National league looms, the Phillies failed to do anything well consistently, leaving fans wondering if the Phillies are worthy of a spot in the playoffs.

The Phillies will host the Nationals for a weekend series starting Friday night.

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