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Best supporting actors: Phillies 8, Marlins 4

While bigger names faltered, Brandon Marsh and Jeff Hoffman came through in the clutch.

Miami Marlins v Philadelphia Phillies
Brandon Marsh came through with a bases clearing double.
Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

The Phillies’ roster is loaded with big names. Trea Turner, Bryce Harper, Kyle Schwarber, and others have made multiple All-Star teams in their careers and have helped carry the team in recent weeks.

But for a baseball team to make the playoffs, sometimes the non-stars have to come through as well. Neither Brandon Marsh nor Jeff Hoffman made it to the All-Star Game in 2023, but both have had solid, if slightly under-the-radar seasons. And on Saturday night, both of them came through in big spots, helping lead the Phillies to an 8-4 win over the Miami Marlins.

That’s not to say that none of the team’s bigger names did anything on Saturday. After struggling badly over the past week, lowlighted by a truly awful at bat in Friday night’s loss, Nick Castellanos was dropped to the eighth spot in the lineup. The demotion seemed to work as his at bats were notably better on Saturday, and he got the scoring started with a two-run double in the second.

Two batters later, another All-Star did some damage as Kyle Schwarber hit a three-run home run off of Johnny Cueto. (If there’s one thing the Phillies have shown this week, it’s that they can hit well against well over-the-hill pitchers.)

Aaron Nola got through the first four innings relatively easily, and given a five-run cushion, it looked like he and the Phillies might cruise to victory. But as he has done so many times this season, he suddenly stopped getting batters out.

He started off the fifth with a strikeout of Jesus Sanchez and little did we know that would be the last hitter he would retire. The next five Marlins who came to the plate got hits. As usual, this included a home run to an unheralded player (Garrett Hampson), and the lead was cut to 5-3.

Jeff Hoffman might not be the biggest name in the Phillies’ bullpen, but it seems he’s the go-to guy when the team needs someone to get out of a mid-inning jam. He allowed a sacrifice fly to cut the lead to one but was able to end the inning without further damage. “Wraparound” innings haven’t often gone well for Phillies relievers, but Hoffman held the marlins scoreless in the following frame as well.

With their lead trimmed to just one run, the Phillies needed to score again, and when they loaded the bases in the bottom of the fifth, it seemed like a prime opportunity to do so. The only problem is that J.T. Realmuto was due up, and he’s been dreadful both at Citizens Bank Park and with runners in scoring position. Sure enough, he fouled out, and the runners were unable to advance.

Fortunately, Marsh was up next, and unlike his more heralded teammate, he delivered.

With the lead restored to four, Gregory Soto, Jose Alvarado, and Craig Kimbrel were able to finish things off without incident.

The series will conclude tomorrow afternoon. It would be great if the Phillies’ stars could lead them to victory in that game, but it’s nice to know that some of the lesser lights are capable of coming through as well.