Somehow, this game was a bigger swing of emotions than anything else that has happened in this series. From the first inning where people were headed outside to look for something else to do to the Rhys Hoskins redemption at bats, this one was all over the map. We should have known that once we knew that there was a plan to get the pitching through an entire playoff game. We knew it was Bailey Falter for a bit, then who knew what else.
The first inning didn’t exactly go as planned though. If you were looking for a cheap joke, you could say Bailey...faltered (I’m so sorry). He got out the first two innings rather easily, but facing Manny Machado, he was reminded why Machado is an MVP candidate this year.
Solo shots are fine since what a pitcher is looking for is to avoid the big inning. Falter did not. A single to Josh Bell and a walk to Jake Cronenworth with two outs meant trouble and Brandon Drury delivered, doubling in both runners to make it 3-0. That ended Falter’s night, Connor Brogdon coming in next. He let Ha-Seong Kim single in Drury and the score was 4-0, the crowd taken right out of it.
Still, with Mike Clevinger on the mound, it wasn’t like the Phillies were facing a colossus on the mound. They would have their turn.
Kyle Schwarber started the first with an single, bringing up Rhys Hoskins. Now, Hoskins had a tough night in the field and at the plate, but redemption is just a swing away.
The crowd was back.
J.T. Realmuto walked, Bryce Harper doubled, the Phillies were only down one run and Clevinger was out of the game without registering an out. Bob Melvin went to one of his best right away, summoning Nick Martinez to clean things up for him, something he did with aplomb. Martinez would get out of the first inning without allowing Harper to score, then threw two more innings of scoreless ball, something the Padres really needed. Fortunately for the Phillies, Brogdon remained in the game and also threw scoreless baseball for two more innings.
In the fourth, facing Sean Manaea, Nick Castellanos (!) doubled with no one out to start it, then came in to score when Bryson Stott singled to left, tying the game and bringing this to a fever pitch.
No moment is too big for Bryson Stott pic.twitter.com/BZbbOkyS2i— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) October 23, 2022
Momentum is fickle. Just as you think the Phillies have it, Brad Hand enters and immediately gives it away. Walking Jurickson Profar with one out was harmless enough, but hanging a curveball to Juan Soto? Yeah, can’t do that buddy. Soto took it and did with it what we figured he’d do with it, homering to right field and giving the Padres the lead back. Brandon Marsh would strike out to start the Phillies’ half of the fifth, but a walk to Kyle Schwarber meant Manaea had to face Hoskins.
That’s a bad matchup for San Diego.
Rhys Hoskins last 6 games in playoffs— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) October 23, 2022
Alas, they weren’t done. Realmuto would walk again, bringing Harper to the plate again. The reigning MVP in the National League has been so excited to be in this postseason and delivered once again, doubling to left center to give the Phillies the lead yet again.
Of course, in games like this, the baseball gods like to make themselves known. Usually, it’s them doing a tricky thing on the Phillies, but today, the baseball gods looked at Nick Castellanos and winked. Castellanos hit a ball up the middle that hit second base, ricocheting into center, scoring Harper and making the score 8-6.
Now, the bullpen was always going to be needed here. In the sixth, Noah Syndergaard came in and looked rather good, sparking questions about if he’d go the seventh inning as well. When Schwarber stepped up and drilled a ball into the center field greens...
...it almost rendered that decision moot. Rob Thomson, though, went for the juggular as best he could. That meant trying to float Syndergaard through the seventh, a single by Profar changing those plans. Thomson went to David Robertson and the nerves were on. Soto grounded to third, a shifting Alec Bohm making a fantastic play to get the second out at second base, but Machado would single to put runners on first and second with two outs, Josh Bell striding to the plate. Bell has hit the Phillies well, so this felt like the ballgame right here. Robertson responded, spinning curveballs up there that made Bell look silly.
Realmuto added an insurance home run in the seventh inning that made it 10-6, but Thomson, rather than go to a lesser arm with a four run lead, kept Robertson in, who rewarded the decision with an outstanding eighth inning. The Phillies wouldn’t get one in their half, so Zach Eflin was brought in to finish things off. A rocky outing the other night meant fans would be on the edge of their seat, but Eflin looked much better, shutting San Diego down with relative ease, ending the game and putting the Phillies on the brink of a World Series berth.
The offense showed up, leading the story for the evening, but we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the bullpen. There were some runs given up by Hand, but this group was excellent. The job done by Brogdon helped put the team back on track with their apparent plan for the evening back intact. It was encouraging to watch, especially as they get ready for tomorrow afternoon.
It’s going to be exciting.