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Surprisingly Franc: Phillies 4, Nationals 3

Maikel Franco’s walk-off homer keeps despair at bay

Maikel Franco wins it, just as we all expected (Credit: Heather Barry - SB Nation ©)
Heather Barry - SB Nation ©

On a day when they celebrated a power-hitting great from the past, a power-hitting sometimes-great from the present gave Phillies fans an increasingly rare opportunity to celebrate the 2019 team. Maikel Franco’s ninth inning walk-off home run provided the winning margin as the Phillies earned a much-needed 4-3 win over the Washington Nationals.

The Phillies honored Ryan Howard on Sunday, and in his pre-game speech, he urged the fans not to boo the current team.

For a while, it seemed as if the Phillies might make that easy for the fans. They got off to a 3-1 lead thanks to two RBI from J.T. Realmuto, and a quality start from Jake Arrieta who pitched through a well-publicized bone spur in his elbow.

Unfortunately, with Arrieta out of the game after five innings, the bullpen had to cover the remaining four. It seemed inevitable that one of the relievers would falter, and sure enough, J.D. Hammer was the culprit. He gave up two runs to tie the game.

The Phillies’ bullpen has struggled this season, but the Nats’ relievers aren’t very good either. You wouldn’t have known that based on this series though.

Perhaps the worst part of the Phillies’ futility was that they weren’t even having competitive at bats. The Nationals’ relievers were simply pumping fastballs in the strike zone, and continuing a season-long trend, the Phillies couldn’t do much with them.

After Jay Bruce went down on a quick three pitches to start the ninth, Maikel Franco came to the plate. While he’s been one of the team’s hottest hitters lately, I don’t think many people really expected him to be the hero. It seemed just as likely that he’d roll a ball to shortstop. But hey, that’s why they play the games, right?

The Phillies may not be where we hoped they’d be at this point. They’re clinging to a playoff spot with four imposing games against the Dodgers looming. But thanks to Franco’s heroics, we can feel good about the team for one day at least.