The Nationals have buzzsawed their way through the Phillies a lot in the past few years. Last season, they went 14-5 against their fifth place NL East counterparts, and this year, they’ve been what feels like an astoundingly underwhelming 11-7. Back in May, when the Phillies played Washington for weeks at a time, it felt like they were really pounding the Phillies into the ground; accruing a debt that we comfort ourselves by saying will one day soon come due. But by snaring a series away from the Nationals, who’ve already clinched a playoff berth, the Phillies were proving [think of something to put here].
Washington starter Tanner Roark was letting the Phillies hit the ball, which they did, mounting a 3-0 lead, but he managed to limit the damage by getting them to ground into double plays in each of the first three innings. With the bases loaded in the second, Jorge Alfaro banged a long fly ball off the last quarter inch of the foul line going up the right field wall, scoring two runs. Mark Leiter, Jr. managed to squeeze a run out of a double play for the Phillies’ third run.
The umpires manufactured some chippiness by issuing warnings to both dugouts after Trea Turner then took a pitch off the hand that, following a Daniel Murphy double, resulted in the Nationals making it 3-1. The next inning, Rhys Hoskins was subsequently donged in the ribs. Dusty Baker, working his way through a fruit basket, objected, but quieted down when bench coach Chris Speier quelled his fit with a nectarine wedge.
Odubel Herrera made a(nother) catch off the warped wall in center field to rob Jayson Werth of extra bases and then he almost made it a 4-2 game with a deep fly ball to right that Bryce Harper managed to track down. Herrera is said to be a lot “cooler” these days, according to witnesses, having clearly harnessed a new level of intensity,
Before the game, Odubel Herrera opened a water bottle and stared at me. "Water is life," he said in English.— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) September 28, 2017
In the top of the fourth, when Michael Taylor wasn’t covering all of the space in center, he was blasting a solo shot to make it 3-2 while Gregg Murphy interviewed a camera operator in the control room.
“Isn’t it amazing how little we know about television?” Murphy asked Tom McCarthy.
Leiter was nearing 90 pitches in the top of the fifth when the Nationals tied the game. He managed to get Ryan Zimmermann swinging with the bases loaded, but Anthony Rendon sent a ground ball toward Rhys Hoskins, who took a step in the opposite direction and sort of crumpled to the dirt. In any case, it snuck into right field and the tying run came across while the bases remained fully National-ed.
Leiter was yanked and left to stare helplessly from the dugout as Yacksel Rios gave up the two-run double to Werth that Herrera had robbed him of innings earlier. Washington sent nine batters to the plate and made it a 5-3 game, with a season wrap on the Phillies’ starter.
Mark Leiter logged 90.2 inn this season, 5th highest among Phillies pitchers. Mackanin talked today about Leiter being long man next season.— Matt Breen (@matt_breen) September 28, 2017
At this point, a former Seattle Seahawk place kicker began playing the accordion in the Phillies’ control room. It was German heritage night and the accordionist was a Temple alum, you see.
“It’s a long song, isn’t it, Ben?” Tom McCarthy asked Ben Davis as the music continued well into Cesar Hernandez’s at-bat.
“Extremely long,” Davis replied.
The Phillies were still down two runs despite Roark giving up his career high in walks in a start (5), with Hoskins drawing his second of the game in the fifth inning. Thankfully, with runners on first and second, Aaron Altherr bounced a soft liner off the foul line in shallow right that caromed perfectly off the wall, gifting Altherr a triple and scoring both runs as even Bryce Harper’s cannon couldn’t get home in time to nail Hoskins (Though had the catcher been able to handle the throw, the inning would have been over). Herrera then knocked in Altherr with a base hit after an at-bat that put Roark at 105 pitches. Watching the ball off the bat, Herrera stretched his knock into a double.
It was at this point that this already highly erotic experience things got even sexier.
Phillies are on pace to play a 5-hour game, their longest game of the season. Previous longest was 4:57, 15 innings vs. Miami (Sept. 12)— Ben Harris (@byBenHarris) September 28, 2017
The accordionist appeared on the dugout with the Phanatic who was playing what I believe is called a “Teufel Stick,” but what I will also accept as a “Party Stumpf Fiddle,” "Pogo Cello,” or "Hum Strum.”
Trea Turner wound up, in that irritating way that Michael Taylor always does, on third base. The Phillies had trotted out Hoby Milner, Victor Arano, and now Luis Garcia, to protect a 6-5 lead. And it held. It held for five innings, actually, since Leiter only made it through 4.1. Ty Kelly even added a run in the eighth on a play at the plate-Ty Kelly-error thing.
What else, what else... Oh, J.P. Crawford walked again, helping to balloon his total for the year to 14, which puts him in a four-way tie for 16th in the NL over the last 30 days, which is slightly more impressive than all of its qualifiers/raw data would indicate, given that he’s been in the league for a couple of weeks. In that same time span, Hoskins is tired with Joey Votto for the top spot with 24. Cesar Hernandez is tied for fourth with Nolan Arenado with 16. And two other guys. He had three walks tonight. Hoskins had two. Why did you think the Phillies have been so fun lately? Because they hit home runs and have a lights-out rotation? No! Because of their ability to study and take more cautious approaches!
And so, the Phillies stole a series from the Nationals, whose NLDS schedule was announced this evening as a special reminder for when their season will end.
Hector Neris got the save.