Things never come easy with this baseball team, do they?
The Phillies got off to a great start in Los Angeles, and it looked for a moment like this might be a comfortable win.
Bryce Harper put the Phillies on the board in the first inning with a laser beam home run to right field. Earlier this afternoon, Alex Coffey of The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Harper has been diagnosed with a partially torn UCL. He won’t play the field for at least several more weeks, but clearly the injury isn’t affecting his swing.
In the second inning, after Kyle Schwarber knocked in Jean Segura with an RBI single, Johan Camargo made it 4-0 with a two-run home run to left. Camargo has proven to be a great signing so far, hitting competently and playing excellent infield defense.
The Phillies added another run in the fourth, thanks to some excellent baserunning from Segura, who tagged up and scored on a shallow fly ball to right.
Then, in the fifth, the Phillies added yet another run when Alec Bohm hit the first triple of his major league career and Bryce Harper drove him in with a double, his second extra-base hit of the game.
The sixth inning brought yet another run, when J.T. Realmuto led off with a triple and Schwarber brought in him with a sac fly. It really seemed like the Phillies were firing on all cylinders.
Meanwhile, Zack Wheeler was cruising through the first five innings, his only mistake coming on a high fastball to Cody Bellinger in the third inning, which Bellinger crushed for a solo home run.
Things started to get a little dicey in the bottom of the sixth, when Will Smith doubled down the third base line, driving in two. However, Brad Hand came in to relieve Zack Wheeler and got out of the inning without allowing any more runs.
With Jeurys Familia presumably unavailable after pitching in the last two games against the Mariners, Joe Girardi would be relying on Hand, Seranthony Domínguez, José Alvarado, and Corey Knebel to finish what Wheeler starter.
Domínguez did his part and pitched a clean seventh inning. Heading into the eighth, the Phillies were still comfortably ahead, 7-3.
That’s when the wheels fell off.
With one walk, four singles, and a double, Alvarado loaded the bases and then allowed three runs to score — including the game-tying seventh run. Finally, after seven batters (and what felt like 100 pitches), Girardi lifted Alvarado in favor of Andrew Bellatti, who finished off the inning and ultimately earned himself the win.
Clearly, it wasn’t in the plan for Bellatti to pitch in this game, but nevertheless he came in and did what Alvarado couldn’t.
Thankfully, the Phillies didn’t run out of steam in the ninth this time, as we’ve seen them do many times before. Odúbel Herrera, pinch hitting for Roman Quinn, laid down an strong bunt to reach base, representing the winning run. Then Rhys Hoskins reached on an infield single, Alec Bohm walked, and all of a sudden the bases were loaded and Bryce Harper was up to bat.
The reigning National League MVP coming to bat with the bases loaded in the ninth inning of a tie ballgame against the best team in the National League is the perfect set-up for a memorable, dramatic moment. Instead, what we got was a run-scoring wild pitch from Dodgers reliever Daniel Hudson.
It may not be the most exciting way to take the lead, but a run is a run — especially in a moment like this.
Bryce Harper drove in an insurance run with a sacrifice fly, and the Phillies had a two-run lead heading into the bottom of the ninth. Corey Knebel was warmed up and ready to come in and finish off the 9-7 game.
…but we’re not done quite yet. Remember how I said things never come easy with this baseball team?
Knebel — perhaps nervous facing his former team for the first time — allowed the first three batters he faced to reach base, loading the bases with no outs. That’s exactly what Jose Alvarado did to start the eighth, and if you’ll recall, things didn’t go so smoothly for the Phillies that time around.
However, this time, the Dodgers weren’t able to capitalize. Knebel induced three straight fly ball outs to end the game and earn the save.
It wasn’t always fun, and it certainly wasn’t easy, but a win is a win, especially against a team like the Dodgers. Other than some questionable bullpen management from Joe Girardi and a poor performance from Alvarado, the Phillies played some good baseball last night. Let’s hope they can keep it going.