For most teams, continually falling behind early in games isn’t a formula for success. But as we well know, the 2021 Phillies aren’t most teams. For some reason, the Phillies seem to only start playing well once they’re trailing by a few runs. On Friday night, they fell behind, came back to take the lead, fell behind again, and then came back once more. The result was an 8-6 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Phillies actually scored first in this one. But they couldn’t even do that in a traditional manner, with the run coming off the bat of pitcher Kyle Gibson.
Unfortunately, Gibson’s pitching wasn’t as impressive as his hitting. Much like Aaron Nola the night before, Gibson had an otherwise strong game marred by one bad inning. In the fourth, he allowed five straight hitters to reach base, leading to four Pirates runs.
Maybe those “struggles” were just part of the plan. Maybe Gibson knew that the key to awakening the Phillies’ offense was to fall behind.
Sure enough, the Phillies began to hit. It started when Brad Miller hit his twentieth home run of the year.
Bryce Harper padded his RBI total with a run scoring double in the fifth, and the Phillies surged ahead in the sixth thanks to a wild pitch and an RBI single from Ronald Torreyes.
Apparently the Phillies REALLY like making comebacks, because the pitching staff forced them to do it again. Cam Bedrosian allowed a two-run home run to Wilmer Difo in the top of the seventh, and the Phillies hitters once again had some work to do.
And work they did. In the bottom of the seventh, with two runners aboard, Didi Gregorius came to the plate, and for the second night in a row, sent one into the stands.
The comeback might not have been possible if not for the work of Hector Neris. Neris recorded the final two outs in the seventh, and due to a lack of reliable options, was also asked to pitch the eighth. It wasn’t a clean inning, but Neris was able to strand three baserunners and preserve the lead.
One Ian Kennedy save later, and the Phillies emerged victorious for the fourth time in a row; all four wins coming after trailing at one point.
From here on out, it would be nice if the Phillies could get out to an early lead and actually hold it for the entire game. But even if they do fall behind early, it’s nice knowing that they’re not going to just roll over and die.
It seems unrealistic to expect them to keep making comebacks, but hey, there’s only eight games left in the season. Maybe they can keep it up? And if they can, there’s a good chance they’ll also make a comeback in the National League East standings.