Beating a team like the Dodgers in their own park, and their own timezone, is dicy. Bryce Harper made it seem possible with some eighth inning heroics, but in the end, the Phillies dropped game two in Los Angeles a couple of hours before sunrise on the east coast.
The fanbase crackled with excitement and/or rage with the news that the Phillies would be employing an opener for this game. What followed was essentially just a bullpen game but with “strategy,” so that makes it “analytics.” Or something. Anyways, the point is, Jose Alvarez got the start, went two innings, and gave up two walks and a hit but no runs to the vaunted Dodger lineup.
Juan Nicasio came on to face David Freese and David Freese only, got him to ground out, and then Cole Irvin pitched for almost four innings. Irvin faltered enough to let the Dodgers score; a Freese home run and a Max Muncy sac fly after Vince Velasquez had entered the game gave the Dodgers their 3-1 lead, which wasn’t bad, considering Irvin only allowed four hits and one walk with five strikeouts. That certainly isn’t an insurmountable deficit for this lineup and a heating up Bryce Harper.
While the Phillies were swinging the bullpen gate off its hinges, Clayton Kershaw calmly and almost soothingly held back the offense for seven innings, only appearing vulnerable once in the fourth, when a Bryce Harper single and a Rhys Hoskins ROE allowed J.T. Realmuto to single in a run. After that, Kershaw logged his six K’s and allowed little more than a Hoskins triple before departing. In his absence, the Phillies were able to capitalize on the severe lack of Clayton Kershaw on the mound when Harper crushed the game-tying two-run dong after Jean Segura was dinked by a pitch.
The Phillies had found a way in, and that way was Bryce Harper. Seranthony Dominguez pitched a clean eight—thanks in part to Realmuto nailing Dominguez’s lead-off base runner in an attempted steal—but the Phillies couldn’t take the lead in their half of the ninth, which of course invited the Dodgers to do exactly what happened next: In one of the cruelest bits of television sitcom-related irony, Will Smith of the Dodgers bashed a walk-off solo shot off Hector Neris.
Game three happens today at “West Coast 1 p.m.,” also known as “4 p.m.”