In January 2013, I took over the management of this site from Peter Lyons. In the five years and five months since then, the Phillies have never had sole possession of first place this late in the year. Sure, they had it on day one or maybe day two, or maybe they were tied at some point in mid April. But in the nearly 65 months since I took over, they never seriously, legitimately held first place.
Until today. With the Phillies’ 2-1 victory over the Blue Jays, and the Braves late-innings loss against the Red Sox (thank you, Red Sox!), the Phillies now hold sole possession of first place for the first time since 2011.
In fact, I’m not sure I’ve been site manager when the Phillies had a winning record this late in the season. And it’s only May 26!
Despite the low score of today’s game, it was a tense, thrilling, yet frustrating affair. It wasn’t frustrating because they just plain sucked, like the 2015 Phillies (or 2016 or 2014, oh god I’ve covered a lot of bad teams), but because we know what they’re capable of, and today they almost didn’t get it done. Almost being the operative word, of course. Because they did get it done.
I want to kiss Aaron Nola’s face
Yeah, I said it. That’s how well he pitched today. He pitched 6.2 innings, allowing just one (!!!!!) hit, one run, and three walks. He struck out ten, and nearly every single minute of baseball he pitched today was no-hit baseball. He allowed his first walk in the first inning, and then didn’t allow another one until the seventh.
Unfortunately, that’s when he allowed two in the span of three batters. With two outs and runners on first and second, Russell Martin — the catcher who was playing SHORTSTOP today — laced a single that scored the tying run. The no-hitter and shutout were over. Nola was 100% going to come out of the game after the seventh anyway, as he had tossed over 100 pitches, but that hit, that one lone hit, prevented him from finishing out the seventh inning.
Kapler called on Seranthony Dominguez, who pitched the end of the seventh and all of the eighth, like he’d been doing it literally all his life. He is for real, and he is freaking wonderful. And in a refreshing change of pace, Luis Garcia closed out the game, allowing just one hit.
Aaron Nola now has a 2.27 ERA in 71.1 innings pitched. You want a little sugar? I’ll give you a little sugar.
And here’s a bit more.
Philly, bow to your ace. pic.twitter.com/96ZrLM8umk— chris jones¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (@LONG_DRIVE) May 26, 2018
You bet your sweet bippy I’m bowing to my ace. I love him so much.
Nick Williams is the Greek god of pinch hitting
The Phillies only had six hits today. Against Jaime Garcia, a pitcher who had an ERA over six coming to this game, the Phillies only managed five hits and one run. That run came in the fifth inning on a Maikel Franco home run that made the angels sing.
But after the Blue Jays scored in the seventh, it was all tied up. This game could still be going on if it weren’t for Nick Williams. In the eighth inning, he sent the tying run into the stands with his third pinch hit home run of the season.
NICK WILLIAMS IS AT IT AGAIN!— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) May 26, 2018
He hits his 3rd pinch hit homer of the season to make it 2-1 Phillies! pic.twitter.com/u8KTYnRU7Z
Williams is amazing. He’s 9-for-19 as a pinch hitter in 2018. He saved the game, and played a big part in giving the Phillies sole possession of first place today.
FIRST PLACE WOOOOOO!!!
And now, a selection of tweets about the first place Phillies.
After 11 tries this month, the Phillies have finally hurdled the Atlanta Braves and sit alone in 1st place in the NL East on Memorial Day weekend. Amazing.— John Stolnis (@JohnStolnis) May 26, 2018
Phillies win. 29-20. sole possession of first place in the NL East. pic.twitter.com/q2zVzQ7jUc— chris jones¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (@LONG_DRIVE) May 26, 2018
THE PHILLIES ARE ALONE IN FIRST PLACE IN MAY FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 7 YEARS pic.twitter.com/eyNx7r79no— The Good Phight (@TheGoodPhight) May 26, 2018
On the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, the #Phillies -- who lost more games than any team in baseball over the past five years -- are in sole possession of first place in the NL East.— Scott Lauber (@ScottLauber) May 26, 2018
I'm a fan of a first-place team and I feel alive— Paul Boyé (@paul_boye) May 26, 2018
@Phillies on TOP of the NL East......been a long time coming and I’m delighted to see it! Nick Williams went BEAST to center— Jimmy Rollins (@JimmyRollins11) May 26, 2018
I love you, Jimmy Rollins.
That’s approximately how many days I’ve been managing The Good Phight. I’ve been dreaming of this day, and this season, for probably 1,971 of those days. I ran the gauntlet, and I made it. No, WE made it! We survived obstacles like Jonathan Papelbon and Mike Fontenot and Aaron Harang. AJ Burnett and Roberto Hernandez. Cody Asche and Darin Ruf. Peter Bourjous. Michael Saunders. Domonic Brown. Grady Sizemore. Laynce Nix. Ryne Sandberg! We had to watch all these guys (and more!) to get here.
We deserve this. Even if it’s just this one day, after just this one game, we deserve this. So let’s enjoy it.