As the weeks have passed since the Phillies fell in six games to the Houston Astros in the World Series, I’ve found it’s gotten easier to look back on their 2022 postseason run. At first, the memories were bittersweet, knowing they came up just short of their ultimate goal in the Fall Classic, however, the passage of time, as it frequently does, has healed many of those wounds.
Just after their loss to the Astros, I ranked the 10 best moments of the Phils’ postseason in an effort to feel better, and they are generally the ones you play on a loop in your head when you’re feeling down. Harper’s Game 6 homer, Hoskins’ bat spike, Jean Segura’s heroics, they’re all in there, and the story is worth a visit once a week just for the vibes.
Bookmark it, you won’t be sorry.
But there were many other moments, smaller moments, from the postseason run that you may have forgotten. Here are 10 underrated or forgotten plays from that glorious blitz through October, in chronological order.
Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola dominate the Cardinals
We, of course, remember the six-run 9th inning that kick-started the festivities in Game 1 of the wild card round, and we remember Bryce Harper’s incredible solo homer in Game 2. But we forget that, for the most part, the offense was sleeping soundly in those first two games against Jose Quintana and Miles Mikolas, and the only reason the Phils were able to rally from down 2-0 in Game 1, and the only reason Harper’s home run stood up in Game 2, were the incredible performances of Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola.
Wheeler went 6.1 innings in Game 1 and gave up just two hits with four strikeouts and one walk. It was Jose Alvarado who gave up St. Louis’ two runs on that mammoth dinger to Juan Yepez, of all people.
In Game 2, Nola was just a bit better, going 6.2 innings and allowing just four hits with six strikeouts and one walk.
They were pitching clinics against one of the best lineups in baseball during the regular season, and the Phils needed every one of those goose eggs.
Bryce Harper’s 9th Inning Wild Card Game 1 Walk
People forget that, coming into the postseason, Bryce Harper was in the midst of a mighty struggle. In 151 plate appearances after his activation from the injured list on August 27 through the end of the regular season, Harper hit .227/.325/.352 with 3 home runs in 35 games. He was a mess.
Those struggles continued through the first eight innings of Game 1, with Harper going 0-for-3 with one strikeout. However, in the 9th inning, Harper worked a key walk following a J.T. Realmuto single that put runners on 1st and 2nd with one out. Harper took a number of close pitches in that plate appearance and appeared to be seeing the ball well for the first time since his return to the lineup (starts at 0:51).
What followed was the greatest playoff run by a Phillies hitter in franchise history, and it was all born from that walk in the 9th inning of Game 1.
Seranthony Dominguez K’s Goldschmidt & Arenado
I included this in my original 10 best moments post, but I still don’t think it gets enough love. This was perhaps the best relief pitching performance of the playoffs, and it happened in Game 2 of the wild card round against St. Louis.
Remember, at this early stage of the postseason, no one really knew what Dominguez had left in the tank, but here he was, called upon to get the Phillies out of a huge jam in Game 2 against St. Louis. With runners on 1st and 2nd and one out, Dominguez faced two of the three “finalists” for the NL MVP award this year, Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado and all he did was whiff them both, allowing Zach Eflin to close the door one inning later and send the Phils to the NLDS against Atlanta.
Ranger Suarez Double Play Game 1 NLDS
Staked to a 2-0 lead thanks to four straight two-out hits in the 1st off Max Fried, Suarez ran into trouble right away in the bottom of the inning. With the bases loaded and one out, William Contreras had a chance to answer right back, but instead bounced a ball to short that the Phillies turned into a key double play, setting the tone for the entire series. The Phils would build a 7-3 lead before holding on for a 7-6, series-opening victory.
Bryson Stott’s RBI Single off Spencer Strider
Everyone remembers Hoskins’ bat spike home run, but it was the rookie shortstop who broke through against the previously unhittable Strider in Game 3 of the NLDS.
During the regular season, Strider had pitched in four games against the Phils, three of them starts, and had gone 4-0 with a 1.27 ERA, allowing an opponents’ batting average of .097.
So here was Strider, in the 3rd inning, after shutting the Phils down in the first two frames with a blazing 98 mph fastball, seemingly invincible. However, a one-out Brandon Marsh walk and two-base throwing error on an errant pickoff by Strider brought Stott to the plate with a chance to get the Phils on the board. The lefty worked a 9-pitch at-bat before finally lining a ball down the right-field line to break through against Strider.
When Bryson Stott did this >>>> pic.twitter.com/nkwRXVNHVN— Justin Lever (@JustinLever3) December 10, 2022
Strider’s sudden hittability was likely more a result of his time on the injured list due to a strained oblique just before the playoffs, but Stott’s hit opened the floodgates that would soon follow.
Charlie Morton Gets Hit on the Arm
Morton didn’t have the kind of season the Braves envisioned he would in 2022, with a 4.34 ERA in 31 starts, but he’s always been a big-game pitcher, undefeated in postseason elimination games coming into Game 4 of the NLDS.
But in the bottom of the 2nd inning, Alec Bohm hit a line drive off the end of his bat that hit Morton on his pitching elbow, resulting in an infield hit.
It wasn’t hit hard, 88mph off the bat, and Morton stayed in the game and struck out Stott. But a single by Jean Segura was followed by a Marsh three-run blast that gave the Phillies an early 3-0 lead. After getting out of the 2nd without further damage, Morton was pulled after completing his warmup pitches before the start of the 3rd inning, resulting in Atlanta matching the Phillies’ bullpen game with one of their own.
With Morton out, their pitching advantage against the Phillies’ Synderpen had been neutralized, and the Phils scored five runs off Atlanta’s bullpen in the series clinching 8-3 rout.
Jose Alvarado K’s Josh Bell to end Game 1 of the NLCS
Zack Wheeler outdueled San Diego’s Yu Darvish in an outstanding first game of the Championship Series, but the Phils’ 2-0 lead was in danger of evaporating in the 9th.
Alvarado started the 9th inning with an Austin Nola groundout, but a walk to Jurickson Profar put a runner on 1st with one out. Juan Soto then hit what appeared to be a game-ending double play ball to short, but a Bohm error on the throw to second put runners on 1st and 2nd with one out.
Alvarado then got the dangerous Manny Machado to fly out to right field for the second out before the switch-hitting Josh Bell came to the plate. With the tying runs on base, Alvarado threw a nasty cutter to Bell that he swung through, saving the Game 1 win against a plucky Padres team.
Zach Eflin Double Play In Game 3 of the NLCS
With the Phils holding a scant 3-2 lead, the Padres had runners on 1st and 3rd with one out. Zach Eflin vs. Bell. With a fly ball to the outfield or a “well placed” grounder, San Diego would have tied the score. Instead, Segura and Stott turn a ridiculously close double play to preserve the one-run lead. In the bottom of the inning, Alec Bohm complemented that double play with a key two-out double that fell just under the glove of a diving Juan Soto, giving the Phils a hugely important insurance run in their 4-2, Game 3 win (5:27 mark).
Bryson Stott’s Game-Tying Single in Game 4 of the NLCS
Rhys Hoskins’ two-run homer with the Phils down 4-0 was the jumpstart the team needed, and Bryce Harper’s RBI double two batters later drew the Phillies within 4-3. But it wasn’t until Stott’s opposite field single down the left field line that the game in the 4th inning off Sean Manaea that the game was tied (3:54 mark).
Soto’s two-run blast made it 6-4, Padres, until Hoskins tied it at 6-6. The rest is history.
Josh Hader Stays In the Bullpen in Game 5
We all remember the Harper home run. In fact, let’s watch it one more time, just because we can.
Bryce Harper, but Moneyball pic.twitter.com/9b4glvpTua— Phillies Muse (@Phillies_Muse) October 24, 2022
But we forget that it’s ludicrous Harper was allowed to face Robert Suarez to begin with. The whole reason the Padres traded for Josh Hader, perhaps the most dominant left-handed closer in baseball, was for situations just like this. Up 3-2, bottom of the 8th, Bryce Harper at the plate as the winning run.
Sure, the Padres didn’t want to ask him for a 6-out save. I get it. But in today’s baseball, managers understand that the true “save” situation sometimes doesn’t happen in the 9th. That was the case here, and as Hader threw warmup pitches in the ‘pen he would never use, Harper circled the bases, three outs away from his first World Series.
Ranger Suarez Two Pitches
This is where the Legend of Ranger Suarez was truly born.
After David Robertson walked two batters in the top of the 9th following Harper’s legendary dinger, the Phils’ No. 3 starter was summoned from the ‘pen to record the final two outs for the pennant.
With runners on 1st and 2nd and one out, Trent Grisham, for reasons passing understanding, decided to bunt. Suarez, one of the best fielding pitchers in baseball, accepted the free out with glee. One pitch, one out away.
And then, incredibly, just one pitch later, Suarez induced a pop fly to right field from Austin Nola, clinching the pennant and the Phillies’ first World Series appearance since 2009.
It was incredible to watch Robertson struggle to control anything on a wet and rainy afternoon and then to see Suarez handle his business with such ease. Still waters run deep, and nothing runs deeper than Suarez when he’s on the mound.
It was a legendary performance, and it took all of about 2 minutes in real time.