Aaron Nola should have been the story of the game. He pitched eight shutout innings and dominated the Washington Nationals’ lineup. There were two problems: Baseball games typically last longer than eight innings, and the Phillies did not hit very well themselves. So, instead of cruising to victory behind their dominating starter, the Phillies had to sweat through a second straight extra inning affair. But in the end, a win is a win, and the Phillies did indeed emerge victorious over the Nats, by a 2-1 score.
In the top of the first, the Phillies loaded the bases. Anyone who has followed the team will not be surprised to learn that they didn’t score. Perhaps buoyed by escaping that jam, Nationals starter Josiah Gray pitched very well over the next five innings. The Phillies didn’t record another hit until the seventh inning after Gray had exited the game.
Speaking of that seventh inning hit, it was a big one off the bat of Yairo Munoz.
Nola made sure that 1-0 held up through eight, but eight was as many as he could muster. Manager Rob Thomson called upon Brad Hand to finish things off in the ninth. Hand was presumably used because lefty Juan Soto was the first batter due up, but that strategy proved meaningless when Hand walked Soto.
Still, Hand got the next two batters out. With right-handed Lane Thomas at the plate, perhaps Seranthony Dominguez should have been used to get the final out. Instead, Hand remained in the game to face Thomas who tied the game with a single to right.
Lane Thomas ties it up and sends this one to extras pic.twitter.com/8xy40mxcM2— Nationals on MASN (@masnNationals) June 19, 2022
Playing their second straight extra inning game, pinch hitter Rhys Hoskins took advantage and drove the “ghost runner” home with a single. The next two batters also reached base, giving the Phillies a chance to open a comfortable lead. But this team seems almost determined not to score in bases loaded situations, and the next three batters went down without getting a run home.
Fortunately, Dominguez fared better than Hand did in his save opportunity. He retired the Nationals with little difficulty, giving him his first save since 2018, and a five-game winning streak for the Phillies.
The Phillies will attempt to finish off a five-game sweep on Sunday afternoon. That’s a tough feat to accomplish, so I suppose I’d gladly take any kind of victory, even if it once again seems to be a lot harder than it needs to be.