Bohm Plays Hero As Phillies Take Down Orioles in Instant Extra-Inning Classic

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Philadelphia Phillies’ Bryce Harper (3) celebrates as he rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the New York Mets during the fourth inning of a London Series baseball game in London, Saturday, June 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

For a pair of teams only a two-hour drive from each other, the Philadelphia Phillies and Baltimore Orioles really do not have a lot of history with each other. Over the span of their franchises’ histories, the teams have only met 71 times with the Orioles taking 38 of those games. Now, with interleague play becoming an increasing staple and every Major League Baseball team facing each other every year, the realm of opportunities for all sorts of new rivalries has begun.

This Phillies-Orioles rivalry, for example, could be an especially exciting one.

For the first time since Opening Day, Camden Yards was sold out on Friday night, as it will be on Saturday and Sunday as well, as the Philadelphia faithful skipped their stops on I-95 on their way home from Boston and continued further south to Baltimore for some crab and baseball.

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Philadelphia Phillies’ Alec Bohm (28) holds up a bat decorated like an old London phone booth during the eighth inning of a London Series baseball game against the New York Mets in London, Saturday, June 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

The Phillies (47-22) and the Orioles (45-24) are two teams at the top of their respective divisions (the Orioles will battle the New York Yankees for the top spot in the AL East all season), meaning this weekend’s matchup has all the signs of a potential World Series preview.

And boy did Friday night not disappoint.

Solo Shots Give Phillies Short Leash

When the calendar turns to the month of June, everyone knows what to expect from Kyle Schwarber. As I write this sentence, I can’t help but think of Wawa’s Hoagiefest jingle but with “Schwarber”-fest instead. And yet through the London Series, Schwarber was as cold as a cold cut with no home runs on the month. He turned it around with a pair in Boston, and then brought his third of the month to lead off the game against Orioles’ pitcher Kyle Bradish on Friday night.

The home run, off a 2-1 curveball right down the middle, went 406 feet into right field to give the Phillies the early lead. It marks Schwarber’s 14th home run of the season, placing him right behind Bryce Harper (15) for second on the team.

After a pair of doubles from Cedric Mullins and Adley Rutschman got the Orioles on the board in the bottom of the third inning, Rafael Marchan welcomed himself back in the Major Leagues with his first hit since 2021 in the top of the fifth: a solo home run of his own.

Marchan took a first-pitch sinker from Bradish just barely over the right field wall, reacquiring the 2-1 lead for the Phillies.

Strong Pitching

Ranger Suarez clocked in another strong outing for the Phillies, pitching 6.2 innings with six strikeouts on the day. He allowed the one run to Cedric Mullins while allowing six hits and two walks on the day.

Suarez was pulled from the game in the bottom of the seventh inning with two outs and a runner on first. Jeff Hoffman came in to relieve Suarez and, after allowing a double to the Orioles’ Jordan Westburg, struck out Rutschman with two men on to end the inning.

The pitch, a 97.6 mph fastball on the fringe of the outside corner of the strike zone, debatably should have been called a ball. However, home plate umpire Charlie Ramos was consistently calling it a strike the entire night, so batters on both sides should have adjusted properly.

Matt Strahm then entered in relief for the eighth inning. Strahm, who had not allowed an earned run to his ledger since Opening Day, gave Anthony Santander a fastball high and inside that he took into left field to tie the contest at 2-2.

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Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Matt Strahm works against the Toronto Blue Jays during the seventh inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023, in Toronto. (Spencer Colby/The Canadian Press via AP)

With the contest tied at 2 going into the bottom of the ninth, Jose Alvarado pitched a clean sheet to force extra innings in Baltimore.

Extra Inning Extracurriculars

With Bryson Stott on second base to kick off the top of the tenth inning, Edmundo Sosa started the inning with an infield single, moving Stott to third. David Dahl then stepped up and slapped aground ball to second baseman Jorge Mateo. Stott, clearly moving on contact from third in an attempt to score, was easily thrown out on a 4-2 putout as the Phillies found themselves with one out and runners and on first and second.

One out and a Cristian Pache walk later, the Phillies found themselves with the bases loaded and two outs with Schwarber due up at the plate. Schwarber drove a single into right field, scoring Sosa. Johan Rojas, pinch-running for Dahl, attempted to score on the play as well but was thrown out by right fielder Santander to end the inning, with the Phillies on top 3-2. The Phillies attempted to challenge the out call at home, but the challenge was unsuccessful.

Orion Kerkering entered the contest with a save in mind in the bottom of the tenth. Despite racking up two strikeouts on the inning, Kerkering’s command was not the greatest on the evening as he hit leadoff batter Jordan Westburg and later walked Gunnar Henderson to load the bases with two outs.

But there was one pitch in particular that Kerkering definitely wanted to get back. With two outs, Kerkering let loose a fastball outside to Santander, hurtling past Marchan to the backstop. A lucky bounce brought the ball back to Marchan relatively quickly, but in a hurry to the plate, Marchan stumbled just enough to give Mullins, the placed baserunner to start the inning, the edge to plate as he tied the game up 3-3. The original call on the field was that the batter was out, however, the second instance of replay review in that inning indicated that Mullins was safe at the plate as the Orioles forced an 11th inning.

Eventually.

With the crowds going wild in an extra inning ballgame that feels like a preview of the World Series, Mother Nature decided she wanted to see some of the game too. And she brought a lot of rain with her. Before the 11th inning could begin, the grounds crew quickly tarped the field ahead of what would be a one-hour and 11-minute rain delay.

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Philadelphia Phillies’ Kyle Schwarber (12) is congratulated by Nick Castellanos after his solo home run against the Boston Red Sox during the fifth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, June 11, 2024, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

When the rain finally subsided, the Phillies placed pinch-runner Whit Merrifield on second base for Kyle Schwarber to begin the 11th inning. After a quick pop-out from Nick Castellanos, the Orioles skirted around Bryce Harper with an intentional walk, opening the avenue for the double play ball and bypassing “The Showman” from another big moment.

But then there was Raffy.

With two runners on, Alec Bohm stepped up to the plate, smacking the first pitch he saw into left-center field, scoring Merrifield and Harper to give the Phillies a 5-3 lead.

Bohm would be left stranded at second base to end the inning, but his two-RBI would be all that the Phillies required as Seranthony Dominguez came in to secure his first save of the season with a one-two-three bottom of the 11th, striking out the final two batters.

What’s Next?

After the game, Manager Rob Thomson raved about the support from the Phillies fans in attendance Friday evening. For those staying for Saturday’s contest or driving down for the 4:05 P.M. start, they will see a matchup between Taijuan Walker and right-hander Grayson Rodriguez.

The possibility remains of outfielder Brandon Marsh making his return to the team on Saturday, but no official announcement has yet to be made. Given that Rodriguez is a right-hander, the lefty Marsh would certainly be in the lineup if activated.

AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth