Remember when the offense was the issue for the Phillies?
Tasked with trying to beat the lowly Nationals, the Phillies continued their recent trend of scoring seven, and only seven, runs on the evening.
The scoring got started early when Bryce Harper continued his crusade to make people in Washington continue to eat their chants of “overrated”, smashing this home run up towards the sky before it eventually descended into the Nationals’ bullpen with a mighty thud.
.@bryceharper3's 100th career home run at Nationals Park is absolutely CRUSHED. pic.twitter.com/mmYWhJOYjO— MLB (@MLB) August 30, 2021
It got them off a 2-0 start, but they weren’t finished in the inning. An Andrew McCutchen walk and a Brad Miller single put runners on the corners with only one out, giving Freddy Galvis a chance to deliver another RBI. He would ground into a force play that scored McCutchen and sent Zack Wheeler to the mound with a rare 3-0 lead.
To start the game, Wheeler battled. He didn’t have his best stuff and there were times when he clearly wasn’t on the same page as Rafael Marchan. In the second, it would cost him as the Nationals put two on the board thanks to singles from Carter Kieboom and Luis Garcia to start the inning. Starter Josiah Gray would bunt Garcia to second, bringing Lane Thomas up. Thomas singled to drive in Kieboom, but Garcia was stuck at third, the ball too shallow to score him. He would cross the plate on the next batter when a double play call that would have ended the inning was overturned and gave Washington another run.
This being the Phillies though, the offensive juggernaut had its gears turning again in the third inning. Harper singled to start it, then kept moving around the bases as Gray would walk Miller and Galvis with one out to load the bases. That brought up Ronald Torreyes, or as you know him - the best Ronald in the division. What does he do?
Ronald Torreyes almost hit a little league grand slam for the Phillies. pic.twitter.com/tQqYNt8f8B— Barstool Philly (@BarstoolPhilly) August 31, 2021
Yup, that was an actual major league outfielder trying to play that ball, which gave us this stupendous tweet.
https://t.co/teCwB8UwQQ pic.twitter.com/B11vmZd7mR— Harry Pavlidis, one dog, and no sticky stuff. (@harrypav) August 31, 2021
Having a four run cushion is usually all Wheeler has needed this year, but he kept struggling, allowing Kieboom to homer in the bottom of the third to make it 6-3. That stayed that way into the fifth when Miller came up again, this time with no one on base. He took a fastball and promptly destroyed it.
Brad go bamBOOM #RingTheBell pic.twitter.com/jF6lIlumzU— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) August 31, 2021
Miller had himself a day, getting on base all five times he came to the plate. It might lessen the calls that have been growing for Realmuto to take more time at first base for a few days, but a hot Miller is a good Miller.
The Nationals, to their credit, just would not go quietly. In the bottom of the fifth, Juan Soto doubled off of Wheeler and would score, but in the inning, Wheeler would only throw nine pitches. He had thrown a ton of pitches in the first three innings and it would have been smart of the Nationals to try and run his pitch count up, but they neglected to do so. All in all, he would go six innings of effective enough pitching to keep the team ahead and hand it over to the bullpen.
Conner Brogdon would be the first one to be deployed and his seventh inning was good, but he wavered in the eighth, allowing two singles before being relieved himself by Archie Bradley. Bradley, whose velocity was down yesterday, got his fastball back up to the mid-90’s and sat down the next two hitters in order to douse the threat.
The ninth saw nothing from the Phillies offense, meaning that Jose Alvarado would have the ninth all to himself. He, of course, would make things hairy, allowing the first two hitters to reach, but thanks to a nifty play by Rafael Marchan, the team got out of it unscathed, ending the game and running the win streak to four.
They’re getting closer, folks. They’re getting closer.