Was tonight a “must win” game? Was this whole series a “must win”? The answer to the former should truthfully be a solid maybe, but the latter was an easy yes. The Phillies had to have this series against the Orioles, one way or another. Letting Baltimore shut them out last night only toughened the assignment for them as they came into tonight’s tilt.
Unfortunately the team had to use a bullpen game since they don’t have the depth to cover this many starts. The Orioles were also going with a bullpen game, so it promised to be enthralling.
Adonis Medina got the start for the Phillies and looked good for the first three innings. His pitch count heading into the fourth was manageable, so they stuck with him, hoping to squeeze a few more pitches, maybe a few more outs out of him. Unfortunately, they might have left him in a bit too long. He started off by getting the first two outs of the inning, but then hit a batter and walked a batter. Ramon Urias stepped up as a pinch hitter and flared a ball into leftfield, bringing in Richie Martin and giving the Orioles the lead.
This being the Phillies, this lead felt huge. For some reason, the Phillies’ offense has gone dormant against this vaunted Orioles pitching staff, the one with the 5.91 ERA headed into the night’s game. However, they had shutout the Phillies for nine innings last night and continued through the first five innings of tonight. There were chances, especially in the third when Jean Segura got a walk with one out, then went to third on a single by Bryce Harper, but Harper’s foolish baserunning, trying to stretch a single into a double, got him thrown out by about 5 feet at second for the second out of the inning, ending a potential rally for the team. Aggressiveness is fine, but that wasn’t aggressive - that was bad baserunning.
The sixth inning saw the Phillies finally breakthrough when J.T. Realmuto hit a one out double, then scored on a line drive double into the gap by Andrew McCutchen.
And that would be the end of the offense for both teams through nine innings of baseball. What does that mean? Free baseball!
Except this is the Phillies.
With the ghost runner on second, Austin Hays ripped a double off of Ian Kennedy to give the Orioles the lead in the top of the 10th. Headed into the bottom of the inning, Ronald Torreyes would be the Phillies edition of the ghost runner. Odubel Herrera hit a scorching groundball that was somehow kept in the infield, but Torreyes was able to get to third. Segura struck out for the second out, meaning Harper would be intentionally walked. It was all going to be up to J.T. Realmuto.
Losing another game to the Orioles would have been absolutely devastating to this team’s playoff chances, but for tonight, it didn’t happen.
Now go get this series tomorrow.