Hey Siri, cue up Dancing on My Own for the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Phillies are dancing on their own (again) as they made the postseason for the second straight fall with a 3-2 walk-off win in the 10th inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The defending National League champions are heading toward Red October as the top Wild Card team.
Johan Rojas, who joined the team in July from Double-A Reading, faced David Bednar, one of the best closers in baseball this season. The 23-year-old smacked a two-strike fastball through the middle of the diamond for a game-winning hit.
His 2022 season ended in Altoona, Pa., with a triple and two RBIs. This season, he gets more time to play out his story.
The second consecutive berth comes after a 10-year drought, which was the longest in the National League prior to last season.
If this story really sounds familiar, it’s because it’s a very similar story to the 2022 World Series run. They hit rock bottom in June when they were 25-32. Since June, they’ve gone 63-37 and have baseball’s second-best record, behind only the NL East rival Atlanta Braves.
They were looking outside the wild-card race looking in when teams reconvened after the All-Star break in mid-July. Philly picked up momentum after the midway mark of the season.
Now having locked up the No. 1 NL Wild Card and the fourth overall seed, it feels like they’re on a similar path. Yet there are some improvements to this 2023 Phillies team that have made all the difference.
The Phillies bounced back in a big way
There’s a new and improved offense with some big power in their lineup. They added Trea Turner while the pitching staff added Taijuan Walker, Criag Kimbrel and Matt Strahm. Surprises have also popped up during the season. Remember Jeff Hoffman? He joined the Phillies in May to become one of manager Rob Thomson’s most trusted relievers, much to the shock of everyone. He has a 2.47 ERA in 51 innings for the Phillies.
Many of the guys on the squad are excited about having another chance to fix their ending in the 2022 World Series. Power hitter and left fielder Kyle Schwarber spoke after the game how he feels about this team’s odds this time around:
“I think the biggest thing is that we have a lot of experience under our belt. It’s a team that’s not going to quit. We’ve proven that this year. We saw it last year. It’s just a team that’s going to go out there and try to out-grit the other team. You know what? It could result in a loss, but we’ll take our best out there every day and hopefully it ends up with a win.”Kyle Schwarber, 9/26/23
This season at CBP has also been one for the history books. They’re 48-31 at home. Their current .608 winning percentage is third since opening in 2004. Only the 2010 and 2011 seasons had better records at home.
It’s now a waiting game for the Phils to find out their first-round opponent. The Diamondbacks won Tuesday night as the Cubs lost in Atlanta. The D-backs lead the Cubs by one game, plus the tiebreaker, for the 5-seed.
That team should look at the Phillies and hope for the best.