It’s actually overrated, having leads late the game. We’ve seen the Phillies time and again lately get back into games and either tie it or take the lead, only to have it evaporate as soon as it appeared. That’s what makes it so overrated.
As Billy Madison would say, “ONLY COOL KIDS LOSE THE LEADS IN A BASEBALL GAME RIGHT AWAY!”
Having secured the series win last night, the Phillies donned their doom-inducing red jerseys and gave away a game they should have taken. The game started with Jordan Walker making an outstanding catch on a Kyle Schwarber laserbeam that likely should have warned us about the day.
Trea Turner and Bryce Harper each would reach, on a single and walk, but were erased when Alec Bohm grounded into a double play to end the inning. Schwarber would rip a two out double in the third inning, but was left stranded by Turner, who went down on strikes. In the bottom of the inning, Taijuan Walker, the starter of the day, starting Taijuan Walker-ing. Two singles began the drama, but a failed sacrifice attempt got the first out at third base. Lars Nootbaar struck out for the second out, but you can only keep Paul Goldschmidt down so long. Walker was unable to continue the steak, doubling to left and giving St. Louis an early lead. Nolan Arenado followed that with a double of his own, making it 3-0.
In the fourth, Harper walked, went to second on a single by Alec Bohm, then scored when Bryson Stott bunted into a sacrifice that was more akin to a Benny Hill spot than a baseball play. J.T. Realmuto walked, Brandon Marsh was hit by a pitch and all of a sudden, the bases were loaded. Nick Castellanos hit into a tailor made double play, but an error on the throw by second baseman Juniel Querecuto allowed two runs to score and the game to be tied. Jake Cave singled to the outfield, but Castellanos was thrown out at home to end the inning.
The score stayed that way until the fifth inning. At that point, Walker was still in the game, doing his patented “have a rough start to a game, then figure things out the rest of the way” type game. Goldschmidt came up to make sure that changed.
Paul Goldschmidt - St. Louis Cardinals (25)— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) September 17, 2023
Alec Burleson doubled, then scored on a single by Arenado, making it 5-3, a score that stayed that way for the next three innings.
The eighth inning was a different story. Bohm homered to draw the Phillies within one, ending the game for reliever Giovanny Gallegos.
Stott singled, went to second on a Realmuto ground out, then went to third on a single by Johan Rojas. Rojas stole second during an at bat by Castellanos, putting both runners in scoring position. Castellanos came through with a single that scored Stott and left runners on the corners. Edmundo Sosa struck out while Castellanos stole second, opening up first for Schwarber to occupy after a walk to load the bases. That left it up to Trea Turner, who grounded out sharply to third only to have Arenado snare the ball, first to first and end the inning.
Now, of late, each time the Phillies have emotionally brought themselves back into the game, either through a tie or having taken a lead, the bullpen almost instantly squanders the advantage. Today was no different.
Seranthony Dominguez, he of the many, many struggles, once again proved last season was more and more a mirage, letting Walker bring his hands in to crush a baseball into a fine powder.
Yeah, they weren’t back from that. There was a little noise in the ninth, but we’ve become far too accustomed to the team just failing to summon the energy yet again so late in the game.
The bright side is that the series was secured for the Phillies.
The dark side is that this was a sweep the Phillies should have done.
Now, they’ll go back to Atlanta to try and game some separation between them and the rest of the teams behind them in the wild card chase. Never assume anything though. These teams want to be the ones who knocks someone out of the playoffs, so best to not just overlook them.