This game looked like so many others the Phillies have played this season: The offense established an early lead, but then squandered some good scoring opportunities, and went cold for most of the game. Meanwhile, the opponent chipped away at the lead, setting up yet another dramatic finish.
But on Tuesday night, instead of sitting on that early lead, the Phillies scored some more, and were able to emerge with a 6-2 win over the Washington Nationals.
As mentioned, getting off to an early lead hasn’t been much of a problem for the Phillies this season. This time, Bryce Harper did the honors with a salute to his adoring former hometown fans.
The Phillies then manufactured a couple more runs to up their lead to 3-0. With Chase Anderson holding the Nationals scoreless through five innings, the Phillies seemed in line for a nice easy win.
Obviously I’m kidding. The Phillies rarely win easy, and most of their victories leave fans feeling relieved more than anything.
They could have broken things open when they loaded the bases in the top of the sixth with nobody out. In a curious decision, Anderson was allowed to bat for himself, but couldn’t get the run home. Neither could the next two batters, despite Jean Segura’s 14-pitch at bat that featured eight foul balls.
Speaking of foul balls, I don’t know what the record for most fouls in a game is. If anyone cares to look it up, I’m sure it will turn out to be some ridiculously high total that this game didn’t even come close to approaching. Nonetheless, there were a lot of balls hit into foul territory by both teams on Tuesday night
The Phillies and Nationals combined to throw 289 pitches in seven innings with 59 foul balls. It's a one-run game.— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) May 12, 2021
The decision to leave Anderson in the game looked increasingly bad when he began the bottom of the sixth by serving up a home run to Trea Turner. He followed that up with a walk, and was promptly pulled from the game. Sam Coonrod allowed that runner to score, and it felt like we were in for another ninth inning nail-biter.
But then in the eighth inning, the Phillies did something out of character: They scored some insurance runs. Consecutive doubles by Odubel Herrera and Alec Bohm - and it should be mentioned that Bohm was batting there due to a double switch by Joe Girardi that actually worked out - scored one run, and a bases loaded single by Andrew Knapp drove in two more.
A couple insurance runs from Andrew Knapp? You love to see it pic.twitter.com/Z7Qc9AJv8J— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) May 12, 2021
This good news was mitigated by the fact that Knapp was only batting because J.T. Realmuto took a foul ball off his knee and had to leave the game. Based on the way it looked, it seemed likely that we’ll be seeing a lot more of Knapp over the next few days.
Given some cushion to work with, Connor Brogdon and Hector Neris were able to shut down the Nats in the final two innings. (Although it took Neris far too many pitches to do so.)
While the whole “scoring runs in the late innings” thing took me by surprise, I have to say that I liked it. If they could do more of that the rest of the season, I don’t think too many people would complain, and they might actually win a fair share of games along the way.