The Phillies and Nationals had a combined 30 hits Friday night, and Nick Williams and Michael Taylor had eight of them. The evening became a tete a tete between the two young players as the Nationals clung to their 19-game lead in the NL East.
Taylor raced around the bases for an inside-the-park grand slam, Crawford-style, taking advantage of a ball that soared over Odubel Herrera’s glove; Williams hit a three-run dinger on his birthday. Taylor scored a pair of runs; Williams crossed the plate twice as well. Williams made a nice sliding catch in the outfield; Taylor threw a runner out at the plate. The runner? Nick Williams.
The Phillies went ahead early on Williams’ homer in the first, off a version of Max Scherzer who didn’t look as sharp or last as long as the Scherzer the Nationals probably want to see heading into October. But the Nationals leaped into the lead off Jake Thompson with seven runs in the first four innings.
From there, Washington would pull ahead, only for a series of Phillies three-run homers to keep them within range just when things would look their grimmest: Rhys Hoskins got a hold of one in the seventh to make it 10-7; Maikel Franco over-swung without dropping his shoulder and crushed a batting practice pitch from Shawn Kelley in the ninth to make it 11-10. Unfortunately, that’s where the evening’s heroics ended.
Hoskins, Franco, Williams, J.P. Crawford, and Hyun Soo Kim all had multi-hit nights (Crawford’s RBI double was the only none-home run RBI of the Phillies’ night). The events continued a trend in which the offense piled up some hits and runs while the pitching and several specific defensive miscues stole away the win.
Taylor’s four-run dash was the product largely of Herrera’s odd attempt to jump up and catch it and lackluster speed in pursuing the ball when it caromed off that same Citizens Bank Park corner on which inside-the-parkers have always been born. Herrera had another moment during an AB in which he tried to call time out, failed to get it, and looked up to see Scherzer most of the way through his wind-up, hopping somewhat frantically out of the way of a pitch down the heart of the plate. It was weird. It was confusing. It was Odubel Herrera.
Kim let a ball hit by Taylor get the best of him as well in left field, allowing a double to become a triple and another run to score. But hey, maybe it won’t come down to one run? Wait, we know that it did. Crap.
Thompson continued to confirm he is not going to be a part of any future Phillies rotation by surrendering seven hits, five earned runs, two walks, and no strikeouts in five innings. Yacksel Rios allowed five straight one-out hits in the sixth, giving up three runs; Hoby Milner left the field unscathed but had to escape with the bases loaded; and Hector Neris earned a run on Taylor’s triple.
As a savage little addendum on the evening, Jorge Alfaro got tagged on the wrist by a pitch, twice.
These are the games that, as Washington’s window closes and Bryce Harper walks away and the Phillies upgrade a pitching staff in desperate need of the ability to get ten runs to stand up, the Phillies could potentially win.
And what a happy bunch of Fridays those will be.