The Phillies needed to win this game. They had fallen to 4 1⁄2 games behind the Braves thanks to their impressive ability to not be able to beat bad teams. It’s been a bugaboo for them for a few years now, but with their best shot at the playoffs in a few years happening right now, they are losing chances to make up ground on Atlanta.
Tonight, it began with three scoreless innings from each side. Zack Wheeler, the Phillies ace, matched up with Kyle Freeland to keep the offenses at bay. Neither should be a surprise, Wheeler being at least in the Cy Young conversation, Freeland being a left-handed pitcher which have given the Phillies fits this year. In the fourth, the Phillies broke through. A single and two walks allowed by Freeland to start the inning loaded the bases and gave them their first scoring opportunity. J.T. Realmuto struck out for the first out, but the patience of Didi Gregorius led to a walk that brought the first run in. When Ronald Torreyes popped out for the second out, Odubel Herrera stepped up and executed a perfect bunt down the third base line that slipped under the grasp of Ryan McMahon and rolled into leftfield.
That made the score 3-0 and set the Phillies off and running.
In the fifth inning, Jean Segura came to the plate and added one more, crushing a fastball left up in the zone by Freeland deep into the September night for a 4-0 Phillies lead.
Jean Segura - Philadelphia Phillies (12) pic.twitter.com/aRzTGoTLAK— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) September 11, 2021
With the lead intact, the team looked to Wheeler to preserve the lead and give them a much needed victory. The sixth inning saw him stumble a bit, hanging an 0-2 curveball to Trevor Story that he back legged into the the second deck of leftfield for the Rockies’ first run. The seventh saw Wheeler truly begin to wobble when he loaded the bases with two outs thanks to some walks allowed and shaky fielding of his own doing. When Joe Girardi strolled to the mound and summoned Jose Alvarado, it felt like trouble might follow, but Alvarado was able to get Charlie Blackmon to ground out to end the inning.
The bottom of the seventh, the fireworks began.
First, it was Brad Miller.
Then it was Bryce Harper.
Seriously, please get this man to the playoffs.
Luckily for those watching, the rest of it was uneventful. The one big play was made in the eighth when, with two outs, the Phillies put on a clinic on how to do a relay from the outfield.
Archie Bradley locked up the ninth and the victory was in the bag. They’ll go at it tomorrow with the Phillies hoping they can split it.