In a game whose start was delayed by almost two hours, this one felt a little like a mismatch. Zach Eflin, though good his last start out, has been uneven lately and would be facing Yu Darvish, who has been quite good all year. However, as he did last Saturday against Jacob deGrom, Eflin would match the ace pitch for pitch, putting his team in a position to win the game.
The Padres opened the scoring once the game finally got underway, seeing Fernando Tatis, Jr. single in the first inning, followed by a big blast from Manny Machado that gave San Diego a 2-0 lead.
Not shying away from the lead, the Phillies began chipping away at the lead when Bryce Harper came up in the second, hitting a home run that could only be described as “majestic”.
This was one the highest home runs I’ve seen. Bryce Harper resembling prime Ryan Howard is fun to see.— Destiny Lugardo (@destiny_lugardo) July 4, 2021
Not content to simply be down by one, Rhys Hoskins came up and drilled a fastball from Darvish into the left field stands to tie the game up at two.
The game would stay that way for a while as another rain delay hit in the bottom of the fourth inning, causing the remainder of Darvish’s start to be in doubt, angering the Padres’ dugout since the delay was called for on an 0-2 count with two outs in the bottom of the inning. Darvish would come back, as well as Eflin, to go into the bottom of the sixth inning with the game still knotted at two.
J.T. Realmuto has been struggling of late, going 3 for his last 35 coming into today, but on his at bat in the sixth, he drilled a ball off the right field wall, leading to a triple with one out. Harper would come up and send the first pitch he saw into right field, deep enough to score Realmuto without a play, giving the Phillies the lead. Andrew McCutchen would single in the next at bat, steal second, then score on a Rhys Hoskins double that made it 4-2. The double was quite unexpected as a few pitches prior, Hoskins popped a ball into foul territory that Eric Hosmer lost in the sky, the ball dropping a few feet behind him for a foul ball.
So with Eflin out of the game, the bullpen would be called on to simply not poop their collective pants on the field. Bailey Falter was first up and needed only eleven pitches to get through the seventh. He looked like he might be called on to go the distance, but Joe Girardi would pinch hit for him in the bottom of the inning, even after a leadoff Alec Bohm single. Sending Falter up to bunt him to second would mean Falter could stay in, meaning another questionable move was upon us. It looked even worse when Bohm was thrown out at home for the third out, the Padres utilizing a review to show that Bohm didn’t touch home plate with his foot, giving the catcher Victor Caratini a chance to get him on the hand for the final out of the inning.
Archie Bradley would come in in the eighth, using a spectacular play from Didi Gregorius to ride off with a 1-2-3 inning and hand it over to Ranger Suarez in the ninth. Suarez was up to the task, getting Tatis to line out to centerfield, making Jake Cronenworth look foolish on three pitches and getting Machado to pop out for the win.
It was a shocking development, but one that hopefully gives the unit a shot in the arm to start to lockdown more defined roles moving forward. The Phillies will go for the sweep tomorrow.