There was a pretty clear path defined for the first two games of this series in the earliest moments of each contest. Friday night's deficit was 5-0 after the first inning, the first real struggle of the year for Jeremy Hellickson. Last night's 3-0 deficit after the first wasn't much better, and Aaron Nola's night didn't get much better from there en route to a truly sad Saturday night in Philadelphia sports. (The ghost of Ed Snider is going to catch up the Capitals at some point, we hope.)
Excitement sapped away, there wasn't much to write home about in a pair of clunkers. Of course, the Washington Nationals are a much better team than the San Diego Padres. They appear capable of actually catching the baseball, something that can't be said for the Padres, who had no issue dropping easy pop-ups in Bad News Bears fashion. At least Sunday would be a little bit different.
The Phillies, with a little help from the bottom of their lineup (it is possible, after all!) overcame a go-ahead homerun from Bryce Harper in the top of the 10th inning to pull out a 3-2 victory in the bottom half of the frame.
Charlie Morton was able to get the Phillies' rotation back on track after two subpar efforts. Morton allowed just one run in six innings of work, tossing 80 pitches in the process. Pete Mackanin had no interest in throwing Morton out there for a third time through the Nats lineup, likely the right decision despite his low pitch count.
Former Phillies farmhand Gio Gonzalez was able to keep the Phillies in check as well, tossing seven innings of ball, also allowing just a lone run, a Carlos Ruiz blast to left.
And if you're a huge fan of Major League Baseball's replay system, then this was most certainly the day for you. Four (four!) replays were sprinkled throughout the afternoon, and the Phillies even got a couple of calls overturned in their favor.
Sure, replay isn't the most exciting thing in the world, particularly when you have to deal with four of them in one day, but there is something relatively therapeutic about having to see Joe West jog in multiple times to do something he probably has absolutely no interest in doing. A curmudgeonly one he is.
And of course, on one of the first truly amazing days weather-wise for the 2016 season, who wouldn't want a little bit of free baseball? Oh, apparently not a lot of people:
A massive exodus at Citizens Bank Park as the game heads to extra innings. Weird.— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) April 17, 2016
Hope you enjoyed the ride home to beat that traffic, joyless souls!
Sure, you might have looked pretty smart when Bryce Harper launched that go-ahead homer off Jeanmar Gomez in the 10th, but the Phillies had a little comeback in store from the bottom of the lineup.
Dusty Baker put old friend Jonathan Papelbon in to try and finish things off, and the way the bottom of the 10th went, we can only assume Paps is out there as some sort of double agent. Carlos Ruiz crushed an out to center to start the inning, just a few feet shy of the warning track. Swing like that again, and good things might happen, one would think. They did.
Peter Bourjos lined a double to left out of the reach of a diving Jayson Werth for a two-hit game, a sorely needed effort from a bat that has been lacking thus far. After a Cedric Hunter flyout, Andres Blanco went the opposite way to left, lining a ball in front of Werth. Despite the depth, Juan Samuel waved the speedy Bourjos around third, plating him on a relatively gruesome finish to the play, as Bourjos took a shot to his head in a collision at the dish. Well worth it to tie the game, and easier to say when you're not the one taking a helmet to the head to score a run.
Blanco's smart baserunning allowed him to move up to second on the throw home, settings things up for Freddy Galvis to be the hero. Galvis got down in the count 1-2 before taking a 95 MPH fastball from Papelbon the opposite way, out of the reach of a very busy Werth for a walk-off double, giving the Phillies a 3-2 victory in front of a relatively packed Citizens Bank Park crowd of over 37,000.
Go crazy, folks:
And if you're a truly shameless and sick individual like me who has Jonathan Papelbon on your fantasy team and sort of could have used a strikeout or a save or something half-decent, just remember... never count on Jonathan Papelbon for anything and never root against your own team. It's not worth your time.