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Lucky lefty: Phillies 3, Nationals 2

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The Phillies won and Vince Velasquez’s right elbow wasn’t pulverized.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Philadelphia Phillies Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

By a score of 3-2, the Phillies beat the Nationals on Saturday. And in many ways, it was an unlikely victory. Well, in one way: this ended up being a bullpen game.

Here’s what happened: With two outs in the second inning, Vince Velasquez got nailed on his right elbow — also known as his pitching elbow — with a screaming 96mph liner off the bat of Adam Eaton. It didn’t even knock him down at first, he just twirled him around. He immediately started looking for the ball and found it, and since his right arm was in a lot of pain (as we would see in mere seconds), he grabbed it with his LEFT hand and threw it right on the money to Carlos Santana to get an out. It was unreal.

Right? Holy crap. That’s insanely athletic, and that he managed to keep his wits about him while in so much pain (thanks, adrenaline!) is absolutely incredible.

No one would have been surprised if Velasquez’s elbow had been absolutely vaporized by that pitch, but after the game there was good news: the X-rays were negative! Whew. Even better, he’s apparently feeling great!

And here’s a fun tidbit about how Velasquez managed to snap off such an impressive throw with his left hand.

Vinny’s singular, heroic act may have saved the game, but the bullpen came together to deliver seven innings of one-run ball. Two relievers deserve a special call-out. First is Victor Arano, who threw two innings and allowed just one hit. And the second is Yacksel Rios (Yack!), who took the mound in the eighth inning with no outs and runners on first and second. The score was a precarious 3-2, and the guy on base represented both the tying and the go-ahead run. He induced three straight outs on 11 pitches, and led the Phillies out of danger. What makes this even more admirable is that he threw 41 pitches during last night’s disaster of a game. Hats off to you, Yacksel Rios (Yack!).

There wasn’t a lot of offense, but the Phillies made it count. With the Nationals up 1-0 in the third inning, Odubel Herrera demolished a home run to right center field to tie the game. The Phillies only other runs were scored in the next inning, Three straight doubles off of Jeremy Hellickson — yes, THAT Jeremy Hellickson — scored two runs, and the final two doubles were both hit on the first pitch of the at-bat.

The late innings were nail biters, but the Phillies pulled through. And Seranthony Dominguez nailed down the save on 13 pitches.

The Phillies can’t do any worse than a series split with the Nationals, and on Sunday they go for the series win. They’re second in the division, two games ahead of Washington and three games behind the Braves. They’re a 1.5 games ahead of the Dodgers for the second wild card spot.

Today’s win was the Phillies’ 81st game of the season. We’re officially halfway through, and the Phillies are in contention for a playoff spot, and they’ve been there for nearly the entire season. We don’t know what will happen from here, but we can be proud of how the Phillies have played in the first half of this season. It’s been enjoyable, surprising, frustrating, but most importantly, it’s been fun and meaningful. After everything I’ve seen over the past six years, I can’t ask for more out of my Phillies baseball.