Not sure what else there is to say about what Zack Wheeler did tonight. I’m sure one could pull out a thesaurus and come up with several other words that are more loquacious, but it’s best to just keep it simple. Zack Wheeler was amazing.
Unfortunately, you can also say that in a negative way and in a positive way about this game.
Needing him to be at his best, the Phillies supported Wheeler by getting him two quick runs in the first inning. Odubel Herrera singled to lead off, then used some heads up baserunning to go to third when centerfielder Tommy Pham bobbled Jean Segura’s single, putting runners on the corners with no one out. Segura would move up on a wild pitch, giving them two runners in scoring position. When J.T. Realmuto and Bryce Harper both hit groundballs, Herrera and Segura both scored, meaning the Phillies used old fashioned baseball to grab a two-run lead.
That lead would hold as Wheeler for seven innings. He was masterful, only getting into a teeny jam in the fifth when back to back singles put Padres runners on the corners, but Wheeler was able to get out of it with nary a tally made. Didi Gregorius tried to make the Padres pay by launching a low and in changeup into the stands on a line.
A laser beam off the bat of Didi Gregorius in his second AB back from the injured list. pic.twitter.com/hOleDYRc3X— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) July 2, 2021
Everything was hunky dory until the ninth. Then the bullpen intervened.
Jose Alvarado was called on in the eighth to get an out, then came back out to start the ninth. He began by walking Jake Cronenworth to start the inning, but struck out Manny Machado for a bit of hope that the inning would be easy. Fernando Tatis, Jr. stepped up and erased that hope by doubling to the wall, making it 3-1. Alvarado walked Trent Grisham, which forced Joe Girardi to make a change to Ranger Suarez. He promptly got Eric Hosmer to ground out, but curiously Jean Segura went to first without even looking at second, meaning both runners would now be in scoring position. What would happen next?
JURICKSON PROFAR!— Action Network MLB (@ActionNetMLB) July 3, 2021
Padres (+102 ML) score 3 runs in the 9th inning as the Phillies blow their 8th save in 9 games! pic.twitter.com/VGQfj6Rl1e
The game went to extra innings, which meant it was time for the ghost runner on second to begin the inning. To Suarez’s credit, he retired the three batters in a row with relative ease, making a great pitch to get the leadoff man to pop out on a bunt attempt, meaning the game was still tied going to the bottom of the tenth. The Padres would walk to leadoff hitter to set up a double play, which looked like it would work when Didi Gregorius
didn’t lay down a sacrifice bunt struck out for the first out, setting up Brad Miller to be a hero.
A hero he would be.
Erroneously called a home run, it wound up being an average, run of the mill walk off double that bailed out the bullpen and gave the Phillies a needed win.
You might think I would use this space to rant about the bullpen, but why? They are a terrible, terrible group of pitchers, though to his credit, Suarez was great in the tenth.
It shouldn’t have gotten to that point though.
They’ll go at it again tomorrow afternoon.