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Catch or No Catch: Orioles 3, Phillies 2

Philadelphia’s least favorite game show

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Philadelphia Phillies Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The first sign of the strangeness to come was the lineup. No Alec Bohm, Brandon Marsh, or J.T. Realmuto? Harper at DH again? Eyebrows were raised. They would remain so for much of the night.

The first inning went quietly, with the only bumps being a popup from Orioles right fielder Anthony Santander that looked like it might’ve turned into a collision (thankfully averted, though a sense of déjà vu persisted), and Bryce Harper reaching first when rookie second baseman Jordan Westburg slipped on the dirt and ended up late on the throw.

Westburg came to bat in the 2nd and quickly made up for his mishap with a 356 foot solo shot to right, the first of his career. You have to cheer for the young guys trying to make it big, but one might be forgiven for hoping that he had waited a few games more to reach the milestone.

In the bottom of the 3rd, Aaron Hicks dove to catch a line drive by Johan Rojas but couldn’t keep it in his glove as he hit the turf; the umpires ultimately ruled it to be a catch. No challenge was made by the Phillies, and everyone remained generally baffled by the situation. Hicks was hurt on the play, adding injury to insult and forcing his departure from the game.

The top of the 4th saw the Orioles put Santander on when Turner knocked a ball down but couldn’t corral it in time for a throw. The Phillies put the lead runner out on a fielder’s choice, then sent Gunnar Henderson and Westburg back to their dugout to end the threat.

In the bottom of the 4th, Nick Castellanos drew a walk; just his second of the month. The Phillies offense for the rest of the inning looked as it has for much of the last week or so, and Castellanos was stranded.

The top of the 5th saw Ramón Urías slap one on just the right side of the first base line for a one out single. After a strikeout (Sánchez’s fifth), Turner bobbled a routine grounder for his second error of the night. Runners were on first and second, but Sánchez punched out Austin Hays with a changeup to finish the inning.

Soon after, Jake Cave lined one to right, where Santander dove for the ball. The ball bounced a bit, though it was unclear whether it bounced off grass or glove. In a mirror image of what came before, the umpires ruled it to be a no-catch. Unlike the home team, the Orioles chose to challenge, though the call stood. Stubbs tried to bunt Cave to second; instead the Orioles were able to field it quickly and put Cave out. Stubbs advanced to second on a wild pitch, and Rojas slapped a single to right, and the Phillies had a man on third for the first time in the game. Rojas joined Stubbs in scoring position after a steal. Schwarber hit a fly that wasn’t particularly deep, but it was enough to score Stubbs and tie the game at 1.

Unfortunately, the inning ended soon after as Turner went down looking on a low sinker that just caught the zone. Having none of it, Turner argued his case, tossed his helmet away, and ended his night with an early dismissal courtesy of the umps. Edmundo Sosa came in as his replacement. The Phillies’ relief was short-lived, as Ryan Mountcastle sent a 451 foot bomb to center to retake the lead in the top of the 6th. The Phillies couldn’t respond in their half.

Sánchez came back out for the 7th, where he continued as he had for most of the night, promptly striking out 2 of 3 Orioles to hit 8 total Ks, a new career-high. Sadly, the Phillies offense also continued as they had for most of the night and went down in order.

Jeff Hoffman relieved Sánchez as the 8th started, putting the O’s down in order. The departure of Kremer gave the Phillies a window of opportunity. Rojas chopped one to Urías, but it bounced out of his glove to become a single. Not long after, Rojas stole second, and Schwarber walked to give the Phillies two on with none out. After an awkward bunt attempt, Sosa lined one right to third, and a quick throw to second put out Rojas before he could return. The Phillies used their challenge. Had the Phillies won the challenge, it would have made for a lovely narrative, paying off the choice not to use it on the earlier catch/no-catch. But it was not to be, and the call was confirmed.

Harper kept the inning alive with a single, giving Castellanos a chance to be the hero. And so he was, hitting a single to score Schwarber. Feeling the momentum turn, Harper came barreling home, slid, leapt to his feet. He extended his arms wide in the hope that the umpire would do the same. Instead, the ump pumped his fist, and the Phillies had to settle for a tie rather than the lead.

With one of their two All-Stars having come through, the Phillies turned to the other, Craig Kimbrel, to pitch the 9th. Kimbrel walked Gunnar Henderson, allowed him to advance with a wild pitch, and then allowed him to score via a Colton Cowser line drive that fell just past a diving Schwarber’s glove.

The Phillies came into their half of the 9th down by one, and quickly found themselves down to their last out. Alec Bohm delivered a pinch-hit single to keep them alive. J.T. Realmuto pinch hit for his fellow backstop and drew a walk. Rojas came to the plate with heroics on the mind, but hit a grounder to end a strange, frustrating night. Game 2 of the series is tomorrow at 6:40.