Phillies Walk-Off Pirates for 4-3 Victory

Phillies Castellanos
Philadelphia Phillies’ Nick Castellanos hits an RBI single during the first inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Saturday, April 13, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)

The Philadelphia Phillies won in dramatic fashion over the Pittsburgh Pirates Saturday Night, as Nick Castellanos hit a walk-off single with the bases loaded.

Even if center fielder Jack Suwinski wasn’t playing in, Nick’s ball was hit deep enough where the runner on third would have scored. The players of the game were once again from the pitching staff – this time, the bullpen. Let’s see how we got here:

Let’s Start with the Finish

In Christopher Nolan fashion, we are starting this recap with the end – we can get to the rest later.

The bottom of the ninth inning started with Kyle Schwarber coming to the plate. Pirates reliever Jose Hernandez came into the game and threw two nasty sliders to get ahead 0-2. Schwarber looked fooled on his first two swings but took the third offering – another slider – and placed it in the outfield grass.

After Whit Merrifield pinch ran for the DH, Trea Turner walked to put a runner in scoring position with no outs. Bryce Harper stepped up, and the runners advanced, but it was due to a passed ball. Harper eventually struck out, and the team leader in RBIs, Alec Bohm, subsequently walked intentionally after a pitching change.

Pittsburgh brought in a tough right in Roansy Contreras, but Castellanos made quick work of him by driving a ball to deep center field. With the outfield playing in, the ball landed for a walk-off single, and Philadelphia won to go up 2-1 in the series against the Pirates despite their offensive struggles.

Phillies Spencer Turnbull
Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Spencer Turnbull throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Saturday, April 13, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)

Strong Pitching Continues

The strength of this Phillies team so far this season has undoubtedly been the pitching. Spencer Turnbull got his third start of the season Saturday and had not allowed an earned run coming into the contest. He struggled a bit more with his command today, and only lasted 4+ innings, throwing 88 pitches – just 48 of which were strikes.

Turnbull may not have looked like the same guy but he did enough to keep the Phillies in the game. He finished his day with a runner on first and no outs in the top of the 5th inning after allowing 4 hits, 4 walks, and 3 earned runs while striking out 3.

This is where the bullpen once again stepped up. Matt Strahm relieved Turnbull and put in one heck of an evening. Strahm went 2 full innings, retiring all 6 batters he faced – including striking out the last 5 in a row. The last Phillies reliever to accomplish that feat was Victor Arano back in 2019.

If not for a flurry of foul balls and a dropped foul tip with 2 strikes, he may have done all that in under 30 pitches. Pirates hitters made him work, but he battled through.

Overall, the pen (Strahm, Gregory Soto, Jose Alvarado, and Jeff Hoffman) went 5 innings, striking out 7 and only allowing 2 base runners (1 walk, 1 hit). When the offense needed to, they came through, but the pitching put them in the position to do so.

Phillies Offense Shines Just Enough

Philadelphia’s offense has continued to struggle in the early going, especially with runners in scoring position. The Phillies put 2 on the board in the first on a lead-off HR from Schwarber and a 2-out single from Castellanos to score Turner. The Phillies had only 3 hits from then until the 7th inning. Schwarber led off with a walk and advanced to 2nd on a passed ball.

Turner’s ground-out allowed him to advance to third. After a Bryce Harper walk, as if he were trying to manifest a hit, Phillies play-by-play man Tom McCarthy noted how both teams had struggled during the series with runners in scoring position. Almost on cue, Alec Bohm ripped a single through the infield to tie things up.

The score stayed tied until the bottom of the 9th, and we already know how that went.

Here are some interesting things that I saw or noticed during the game about the Phillies’ offense so far this season:

Schwarber would get another hit against LHP in the 9th after this tweet

Schwarber is putting up opposite splits from what you would expect from him this season:

  • vs. RHP: 2-for-29 (.069), 1 HR, 1 RBI, 3 BBs
  • vs. LHP: 13-for-29 (.448), 2 HRs, 5 RBIs, 6 BBs

Nick Castellanos’ struggles have been real, but he spoke post-game and said, “We needed that…I needed that.” The slugging outfielder has yet to record an extra-base hit in 2024.

Finally, a trend you will likely see continue throughout the season happened again tonight, with late-inning replacements coming into the game across the board. Stott, Merrifield, and Marsh all saw time despite not starting. Some Phillies fans have expressed frustration not seeing their favorites start night in and night out, but manager Rob Thomson is trying to get everyone opportunities in spots where he feels they are more likely to succeed.

One thing that could be an added benefit is getting more players comfortable with coming off the bench in big spots.

Former Phillies player Greg Dobbs once spoke about the importance of making good use of your time during the week and on game day, and essentially being your own manager and paying attention to the little things during the game so “you don’t feel like everything is so fast.”

The more players that are put in a position to have to come off the bench on short notice, the more mentally prepared they will be if that situation were to arise in important games in September and October.

What’s Next?

Philadelphia sits over .500 once again after Saturday’s victory and will look to win their third series in a row as they wrap up their stint with Pittsburgh on Sunday.

Zack Wheeler will take the mound against the Pirates’ Mitch Keller. The game starts at 1:35. They welcome the Colorado Rockies to town for 3 games starting Monday.