The main reason — perhaps the biggest — within reach of a meaningful baseball team in October is their depth. The unsung heroes have risen at unexpected moments, and it has been all season. Rookie footballer Bryson Stott, reserve catcher Garrett Stubbs and bench player Nick Matton all scored successful results in the game. And the list goes on.
So, fitting on Wednesday night, when the Phillies desperately needed to lose a five-game winning streak, it was the unsung heroes who helped them win a must-win game, 4-3, capped by rookie Matt Ferling- from one in The tenth inning is up to 5 vs 5 nights.
Velez’s bats were largely quiet until the eighth inning, when JT Realmoto made them onto the board solo, half a turn after Ceranthoni Dominguez allowed a three-stroke home run to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. from there.
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With two wins and Jan Segura at second base, Dalton Guthrie, who was playing in only his seventh major league game, lined up on the singles court to the right to score Segura and trim the Phillies down to 3-2.
In the next game, Ferling, who was only in the match because quarterback Brandon Marsh was unavailable to play, hired the first and third runners, and drove Kyle Schwarber-Guthrie home to tie the match 3-3.
Bryce Harper, Realmoto and Alec Bom all went down 1-2-3 in the ninth inning, and Andrew Bellati took the lead in the 10th. The relaxed 31-year-old, who was signed to a minor league deal in November, faced the heart of the Blue Jays squad. It wasn’t pretty – Bellati walked two hitters to load the bases – but Teoscar Hernandez fired a straight line into second Segura for an unassisted double that ended the game.
The Phillies started their half from 10th with ghost sprinter Yairo Muñoz in second and Stott moved him to third with a victim. Adam Semper, a loyal Blue Jays, hit Segura with a pitch and went to Guthrie to load the bases. Then Vierling got a walking strike, and a guard high above second base.
“I hit that thing really hard, but I hit it about two feet in front of the house board,” Ferling said. “I just jumped in the middle. I found a hole.”
The Phillies have an uphill task ahead – a four-game set against the Atlanta Braves to wrap up their last home ground of the season – but Wednesday’s win looked all right for a side that was on the rise. That might be enough to spark some positive momentum.
“Things haven’t gotten much better, seeing everyone come out and how excited they are, especially looking at how things are going,” Vierling said of the on-field celebration. “Hopefully we can carry that into tomorrow.”
On his first appearance since Aug. 20, right-handed Zach Wheeler looked like a vintage Zach Wheeler on Wednesday night, not the Zach Wheeler we’ve seen this season. He looked like the person we saw last season, the bowler who hit 247 hitters over a 213 score and took second place in the NL Cy Young award vote.
During four rounds, only two three hits were allowed. He threw 16 pitches that clocked 98 mph or more hard, and he threw his toughest pitch of the season—a 99 mph four-seat fastball—in the second half. He worked quickly and economically, making 58 throws, 38 of which were shots.
It was an encouraging outing, but not surprising. Weller told us this is coming. When he was put on the injury list in late August with elbow inflammation, he said he was just starting to feel like he was old, thanks to two minor adjustments he made with the Phillies coaches. And on Wednesday, after missing five games, it looked like he didn’t miss a moment.
“Fantastic,” Interim Manager Rob Thompson said of Wheeler. “I don’t know the last time I saw 98 mph of wheels, so that’s huge. It really is. It seems his secondary purposes weren’t working like they normally are, but the fast ball speed and driving were really good.”
After slipping five games and with more than a few injuries to contend with, Wheeler’s outing provided the Phillies with a piece of the good news they so desperately needed. He will offer two more rides and is now ready to start Game 1 in a series of top three wild cards, should Phillies succeed there.
The Brewers is a 2½-game behind the Phillies in the last NL wild card slot. The Phillies could break a post-season drought as a byproduct of Milwaukee’s struggles, but Wheeler’s outing should make them even more optimistic that the 10-year drought is about to end.
Noah Sendergaard’s outing should give them optimism, too. The right-hander, who had been making his first off the field appearance since May 31, 2016, hit Wheeler on the back and gave the Phillies two stress-free runs, allowing only three hits in two, against a lineup that had hit 18 times. the night before. It was his best (albeit shortest) outing in weeks.
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Just as Wheeler began to look more like him, Dominguez began to look like a completely different pitcher. After giving up his best five runs he earned last season, on September 16 Dominguez gave up his three-round homer Homer Guerrero. He was assigned only two earned runs, due to a throwing foul by Stott that allowed Whit Merrifield to advance from first base to third base, but he also gave up one walk and two runs.
From there, Domínguez caused a break in the first half, and two more hits walked. Like Nozha on September 16, he was unable to finish the role.
“It’s just an order,” Thompson said of Dominguez’s rough night. “The speed is there. I think over time it will be fine. I really am.”