June 7, 2023

Phillies 1 win away from World Series in come-back victory


Philadelphia Phillies' Bryce Harper celebrates after his RBI-double during the fifth inning in Game 4 of the baseball NL Championship Series between the San Diego Padres and the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

It is extremely hard to believe when you think about how they began their season, how they struggled in the final month of the regular season, and how they squeaked into the postseason with just 87 wins, the fewest of any of the six National League playoff teams, how they needed a miracle to win their first postseason game in 11 years, and how they were given little chance to beat the 101-win Atlanta Braves in the Division Series.

It is hard to believe, but it is very true.

It has been an underdog story for the Phightin Phils, as the Philadelphia Phillies are one win away from winning the National League, and one win away from the World Series.

Only one word, wow.

They are on the doorstep of baseball’s biggest stage with a wild 10-6 victory over the San Diego Padres in Game 4 of the NLCS in front of a huge and throaty crowd of 45,467 at Citizens Bank Park on Saturday night.

The Phillies can punch their ticket first World Series since 2009 with a win in Game 5 on Sunday afternoon. All the puzzle pieces are lined up. The Bank will be packed and rowdy again and the Phillies will have their best pitcher, Zack Wheeler, on the mound. He will face right-hander Yu Darvish in a rematch of Game 1 of the series. The Phillies won that game, 2-0. A loss Sunday would send the series back to San Diego for Game 6 Monday night.

The Phillies, who are now 8-2 in this postseason, do not want to get on that airplane back out West. And, honestly, I do not think anyone does, unless you’re going for a vacation.

Without a dependable fourth starter, the Phillies were forced to get crafty Saturday night.

The plan was for left-hander Bailey Falter to take the first three innings and use a cast of relievers the rest of the way. The plan worked perfectly in the NLDS clincher against Atlanta last weekend.

However, it did not work as smoothly this time. Falter, who had pitched just one inning in the last three weeks, failed to get out of the first inning as the Padres jumped out to a 4-0 lead.

The Padres’ big first inning, highlighted by a Manny Machado home run, silenced the crowd, but not the Phillies.

Kyle Schwarber led off the bottom of the first inning with a base hit against Mike Clevinger and Rhys Hoskins quickly cut the Padres’ lead in half with a two-run homer to left.

J.T. Realmuto then walked and Bryce Harper clubbed a two-run double to make it a one-run game. Clevinger lasted just four batters and did not get an out.

On hits by Nick Castellanos and Bryson Stott, the Phils came all the way back to tie the game in the fourth.

Juan Soto then hit his first home run of the postseason off of Brad Hand to take a 6-4 lead in the top of the fifth.

The tables completely turned after that.

The Phillies’ offense completely took over the game.

Schwarber drew a one-out walk against Sean Manaea with one out in the bottom of the fifth and Hoskins launched his second two-run homer of the night to tie it.

Realmuto then walked and scored the go-ahead run from first base on a double by Harper sending The Bank into a frenzy.

Castellanos capped off the fifth-inning rally with a base hit up that hit off the second base bag to score Harper.

They never looked back.

The Phils extended their lead each of the next two innings on solo homers, Schwarber in the sixth and Realmuto in the seventh. Both homers ignited the stands.

It was an incredible night for the Phillies’ top five hitters. Schwarber, Hoskins, Realmuto, Harper and Castellanos were a combined 9-for-18 with three doubles, four homers, nine RBIs, three walks, and only one strikeout.

While Falter and Hand struggled, the rest of the pitching staff thrived.

Connor Brogdon, Andrew Bellatti, Noah Syndergaard, David Robertson, and Zach Eflin all recording scoreless outings.

It was an incredible team effort, and the crowd was a big part of it again as the Phils are now 4-0 at home this postseason.

One more win and this 87-win team that barely squeaked into the playoffs as the sixth and final seed will be on its way to the World Series as the National League champion.

Baseball is beautiful.

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