For the first time in 11 years, the Philadelphia Phillies played in a postseason game. After trailing their last postseason game in the 9th inning against the Cardinals, the Phillies scored an unprecedented six runs in the inning to take game 1 of the Wild Card Series.
The red birds threw lefty Jose Quintana. He went 5.1 IP scoreless but did run into trouble at times. In the 3rd inning, the Phillies got runners on first and second off of a Bryson Stott walk and a Matt Vierling single. Kyle Schwarber and Rhys Hoskins couldn’t bring in the run.
In the 5th, Alec Bohm lead off with a line drive to the left field corner for a double. Jean Segura would move him over to 3rd with Bryson Stott coming up. Stott ended up hitting the ball right at the second baseman. It was pure bad luck, including a terrible strike call high by the umpire.
The strike zone was an adventure most of the day but that didn’t stop Zack Wheeler from looking like the ace that we know him to be.
Phillies and the scoring heat up in the second half
The Cardinals first threatened in the 6th inning. Tommy Edman started the inning with a seeing-eye single between Hoskins and Segura. Lars Nootbaar (the silliest name in baseball) walked to put runners at 1st and 2nd with Albert Pujols coming to the plate. Luckily, the all-time leader in grounding out to a double play lived up to the hype. Zack Wheeler would get the expected NL MVP to ground out to 3rd base to end the inning.
Wheeler went 6.1 IP, giving up just 2 hits and a walk. He did everything that was asked of him, throwing more pitches than any other outing since his return from the IL. Jose Alvarado would relieve him in the bottom of the 7th.
After recording the first out, Alvarado would walk the next batter. Cardinals’ manager Oliver Marmol would pinch hit for lefty Corey Dickerson with Juan Yepez. The move would be a temporary disaster for the Phillies as Yepez would hit the first go-ahead pinch-hit playoff home run in Cardinals history.
Giovanny Gallegos came into the game in the 7th and retired the side. He’d get the first out in the 8th inning and walked Bryson Stott. Marmol would go to one of the most electric closers in baseball to get the last 5 outs of the game.
In the bottom of the 8th, David Robertson gave a slight bright side to things. As he looked great for the first time in a while. He struck out the first 2 batters and got Albert Pujols to ground out to the mound.
To the top of the 9th.
Phillies do the improbable
Rhys Hoskins would work a full count against Helsley but couldn’t hold up against a wicked slider. JT Realmuto would have better luck, lining a single to the outfield with Bryce Harper coming up. Harper would work a walk with a full count to bring Nick Castellanos to the plate.
All of a sudden, Ryan Helsley lost all control of his fastball. He’d walk Castellanos to load the bases with just 1 out. The first pitch to Alec Bohm bounced to the plate. A wild 101 MPH fastball would hit Bohm to bring in the first run of the game for the Phillies.
The trainer for the Cardinals would come out and look at Helsley’s hand. He’d be taken out and replaced by Andre Pallante. Edmundo Sosa, the former Cardinal, came in the game to pinch run for Alec Bohm. Jean Segura, playing in his first playoff game had the chance to be the hero for all of Philadelphia.
He’d grab destiny by the reins and sneak a ball past the second baseman to give the Phillies a 3-2 lead. Bryson Stott, the rookie, would be next. He’d hit a short ground ball to first base. Paul Goldschmidt tried to get the out at home but Edmundo Sosa, who the Phillies traded for from the Cardinals just made it home safe. Four to Two, Phillies.
Brandon Marsh would keep the improbable inning going by hitting a groundball to Nolan Arenado that should’ve been an out. Instead, it snuck through and scored another run for the Phillies. The throw to the plate would allow Bryson Stott to get to 3rd base with 1 out. Kyle Schwarber would hit a deep fly ball for an out but Stott tagged up and scored. SIX TO TWO, PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES.
Zach Eflin, for only the second time in his career, would take the ball in the bottom of the 9th inning to close things out. He’d allow a bloop single by Nolan Arenado with 1 out. A walk later and a pinch-hit single would bring Yadier Molina to the plate with 2 outs as the tying run.
Eflin would strike out the living legend as the 4-run lead would prove insurmountable. The Phillies win their first playoff game since October 4th, 2011. One game away from the NLDS.
Photo Credit: AP Photo/David J. Phillip