With the NLCS tied at one game apiece, the Philadelphia Phillies and San Diego Padres squared off at Citizens Bank Park on Friday night. Game three was exciting, frustrating, and wacky, just as we should expect playoff baseball to be. We saw questionable decisions by the manager, questionable fielding by the Phillies, and questionable calls by the ump. Most importantly, we saw the Phillies do enough right to emerge with a 4-2 win.
Ranger Suarez started things off nicely with an efficient top of the first inning, and Kyle Schwarber led off the bottom of the inning with a home run. After Rhys Hoskins and J.T. Realmuto walked, Bryce Harper came to the plate, and the Citizens Bank Park crowd was rabid, eagerly awaiting the big hit that the reigning MVP was sure to deliver. Instead, Harper grounded into a double play, and you could just feel the crowd’s energy level drop.
The teams traded zeroes over the next innings. Suarez was humming along and escaping that first inning with no further damage allowed Padres starter Joe Musgrove to settle in a bit.
Suarez’s night hit a bump in the fourth. First, he hit Juan Soto with a pitch. Then with one out, Brandon Drury grounded a ball against the shift to put runners at the corners. The next batter was Jake Cronenworth and he grounded the ball to shortstop. The Phillies might have been able to turn two. They definitely should have had one. Instead, Jean Segura dropped the ball at second, and a run scored.
What a great turn at 2B by Jean Segura! pic.twitter.com/9CXRxkPc7q— Talking Friars (@TalkingFriars) October 22, 2022
Suarez was able to pitch out of it, and in the bottom of the inning, Segura came to the plate with runners on second and third with two outs. Given the chance for redemption, Segura came through.
HUGE hit from Jean Segura.— Crossing Broad (@CrossingBroad) October 22, 2022
He might have been a little too excited about the RBIs because he promptly got picked off first base.
The Padres got one of those runs back the following inning when another Phillie was unable to make a routine play.
Suarez coaxed two straight ground balls after that, but unfortunately, that didn’t prevent the run from scoring.
Suarez seemed to be cruising at that point, as he was getting ground ball after ground ball, and likely would have had a shutout if not for his defense. But apparently manager Rob Thomson felt Suarez was only capable of five innings, so he turned to his bullpen.
I disagreed with the move, and Zach Eflin quickly made it look questionable by giving up two singles. With Josh Bell (1.114 OPS in eight games against the Phillies this season) at the plate, the game was not looking good. But to my surprise, Eflin got Bell to ground into a rally-killing double play of his own.
Alec Bohm’s RBI double in the sixth extended the Phillies lead to two, but the Phillies had three innings to protect it, and it wasn’t clear if they had enough reliable relievers to do so. Jose Alvarado got through the seventh - partly due to an amazing diving play by Segura - and then came back for the eighth, but he began that inning by giving up a single to Soto.
Seranthony Dominguez entered the game retired the next three batters with relative ease, but he’d have to get through another inning before this one was entered in the win column. The ninth started out ominously when Bell led off with a single. But Dominguez got a massive break when Jurickson Profar was deemed to have offered on what would have been ball four.
Jurickson Profar has been thrown out of the game. pic.twitter.com/4O437H2Sf2— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 22, 2022
That call seemed to energize Dominguez who quickly retired the last two batters to seal the 4-2 win and a 2-1 lead in the series.
This game did serve as a showcase for just about everything the 2022 Phillies had to offer. They were both not clutch and clutch. They botched easy defensive plays yet made some great ones as well. The bullpen looked like it was on the verge of blowing the game at any moment, yet ultimately pulled it out.
In the end, it was a crazy game that we’ll probably remember for a long time. And now that the Phillies are just two wins away from the World Series, I wouldn’t expect the craziness to subside anytime soon.