You could feel them: Those X-factors that become the obstacles in completing a sweep.
In the first inning, with Jerad Eickhoff on the mound for the Phillies after his first bad start of the year, it felt like it was starting. Charlie Blackmon led off with a solo shot, Eickhoff hit David Dahl with a pitch, and some divine chaos prevented Rhys Hoskins from scooping an easy out on a soft Nolan Arenado ground ball. A run was in, some men were on, and with only one out, it seemed like Eickhoff’s worst inning of the day might be he his only inning.
And then, he bared down. The curveball got Raimel Tapia. The fastball got Daniel Murphy. Eickhoff, who didn’t have his best stuff today, left the field having averted disaster.
It was time to let the offense get to work. The last time the Phillies faced Kyle Freeland, he shut them out for six innings, allowing only two hits. This time, their bats found his pitches. With the bases loaded in the second, Andrew McCutchen launched a fly ball that clattered off the base of the wall, scoring two. Bryce Harper notched an RBI on a ground-out, making it 3-1, and Freeland got yanked from the game.
The lead didn’t last very long. Ryan McMahon and Trevor Story combined for three home runs that rebuilt the Rockies’ lead and made it 5-3. But Gabe Kapler had a pretty big weapon sitting on his bench. With Andrew Knapp getting the start at catcher, J.T. Realmuto was waiting to be dropped into a big spot, and in the bottom of the sixth, he found it. With Knapp on first, Realmuto drilled a game-tying shot to left-center, giving someone else a chance to be the hero.
Two batters later, Bryce Harper stepped into the box. Jean Segura had singled himself onto first, so when Harper’s ball landed, eventually, the Phillies got a two-run lead out of it. The man whose slump has been the talk of the airwaves managed to win the Phillies a ball game, though it must be said that Juan Nicasio, Edgar Garcia, Adam Morgan, and Pat Neshek held off the Rockies so the offense could get the lead back.
In any case, Harper had a better series and looks to have found his swing while the Phillies won three close games in a row, salvaging their pride from a lousy series with the Brewers.
Harper's current 6-game on-base streak: .318/.400/.727, 3 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI— The Good Phight (@TheGoodPhight) May 20, 2019