The Philadelphia Phillies looked to be cruising through their first three innings as Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Nola tossed three scoreless innings in a row. Couple that with some small ball on offense to score Philadelphia a run in the second inning and a solo shot lasered to center by Bryce Harper for a homerun, and all indications appeared to be green.
Bryce Harper is a Phillie.#RingTheBell pic.twitter.com/REfL3DVPWw— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) August 5, 2021
However, Nola ran into some trouble in the fourth inning when he loaded the bases and then gave up two runs. One of those runs was forced by hitting Nationals catcher Tres Barrera. Nola then gave up a three-run home run to Josh Bell in the fifth inning to give the Nationals a 5-2 lead.
1⃣9⃣ for No. 1⃣9⃣— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) August 5, 2021
Josh Bell has been on an absolute tear.
(Seven of his last 13 hits have been homers.)@JBell_19 // #NATITUDE pic.twitter.com/dmDJ2uDVk0
Nola’s lack of command, especially with his fastball, meant that the starting pitcher’s night was done after five innings of work in which he threw 99 pitches. Coming into the season Nola didn’t really have a feel for his fastball and going onto the COVID-19 IL list probably didn’t do him any favors. He tried to depend on his offspeed stuff all evening and it didn’t pan out for him.
The Phils fared no better in the sixth when JT Realmuto lead off with a four-pitch walk, only for Harper to lineout to left field, and then Rhys hit a line drive to the pitcher for a double play. Those three players to lead off an inning is as good of a shot as this team has to score some runs, especially when Jean Segura takes the day off.
The woes continued when Ronald Torreyes inexplicably and uncharacteristically dropped a routine pop fly to shallow right-center that allowed Barrera to take first to lead off the bottom of the inning. Enyel De Los Santos, taking over for Nola, then hit Ross on the hand on the very next at-bat. However, De Los Santos was able to get out of the inning unscathed, keeping the Nationals lead at 5-2.
As if things just weren’t breaking the Phillies way on Thursday afternoon, how about this home run that was ROBBED by Juan Soto. Just unfair, but that’s baseball!
Juan Soto robbing Didi Gregorius of a home run. #NATITUDE pic.twitter.com/DtpSX7yt55— Justin Groc (@jgroc) August 5, 2021
The Phillies did however capitalize on Ross’ propensity to give up hits in his third time through the rotation as Alec Bohm doubled, then scored on an Odubel Herrera RBI single. That prompted the Nationals to finally go to their bullpen after 6.1 innings. The Phillies then promptly left the bases loaded to end the seventh inning.
But, the Nationals bullpen is depleted following the trade deadline, that means anything is possible. That sentiment was proven true as Realmuto hit a two-RBI double to tie the game in the top of the ninth with two outs. The Nationals then intentionally walked Harper only for Rhys Hoskins to hit a two-run double to make it 7-5.
Archie Bradley was called on to close the game, and it wasn’t without theatrics. Juan Soto scored on an errant throw by Didi Gregorious to first base that ended up in the dugout bringing the Nationals within one at 7-6. In the end, Bradley locked down the inning and secured the victory.
With Thursday night’s win, the Phillies completed the four-game sweep of the Nationals while also pulling the team within 0.5 games of the New York Mets and the NL East lead.
Onto the next!