Phillies Fan Reaction (PFR) Gm 121: CHC 5, PHI 7 - The Bryce is Right
BRYCE HARPER IS A PHILADELPHIA PHILLIE AND DON'T YOU EVER FORGET IT!
In one of the greatest games of the entire 2019 MLB season, the Philadelphia Phillies WIN in comeback fashion, 7-5 over the Chicago Cubs, completing a massive 3-game sweep. Almost as massive as the swing Bryce Harper used to launch a 413 foot walk-off grand slam into the second deck in right field.
A lot has gone wrong for the Phillies since the last time I wrote about them at the height of the bamboo era in late June. Since Jean Segura's walk-off against the Mets, the Phils are just .500. They have been one of the worst teams in baseball since the All Star Game, made only minor additions at the trade deadline, and, most recently, fired hitting coach John Mallee. Charlie Manuel, the winningest manager in team history, was brought into replace him.
The move to Cholleyball paid early dividends on Wednesday, when the Phillies hit three home runs in an 11-1 victory to spoil the return of long-time Phillie Cole Hamels. However, for the first eight innings of Thursday's contest, the Phillies went back to their old struggling habits. They were 1-12 with runners in scoring position, made two bad outs on the base path, and struck out eleven times.
Meanwhile, starter Drew Smyly struggled on the hill, perhaps because he's not Cliff Lee despite everyone insisting on comparing them because they're both left-handers from Arkansas. The Cubs scored five runs between the third and fifth innings, with a combination of power (Anthony Rizzo hit a solo home run) and timely hits (two out RBI singles by Albert Almora and Rizzo). You know, the sort of things the Phillies have struggled to do for most of the season.
The good thing about baseball is that no matter the lead, getting to 27 outs is always a challenge. There's no clock to kill or victory formation possible - you've got to throw the ball over the plate to everybody, and you never know when something special can happen.
It all started with an error by shortstop David Bote, allowing Cesar Hernandez to reach. Inconsequential most nights, but this time it proved to be a spark. Scott Kingery singled to center. Brad Miller and Roman Quinn, two of the poorer hitters on the team, snuck similar ground ball singles out of the reach of diving second baseman Ian Happ. Both hits scored a run.
The slumping Rhys Hoskins, who represented the winning run, was hit on the hand by a 1-2 pitch. That loaded the bases for Harper, facing the third different pitcher of the inning for the Cubs. Down 0-2 in the count, the superstar's chances looked bleak. But he took the next two pitches outside, and fouled off an inside sinker. Citizens Bank Park was getting rowdy, bubbling ever since Hernandez reached, ready to explode in joy.
The sixth pitch was a little too high. Not enough inside. The baseball was launched so high and hard it didn't just scrape the moon, it went right through it. At its apex, it cleared the roof of CBP by 25 feet.
By the time it came down, ten rows or so back in the second deck in right field, Bryce Harper was already high-stepping down the first base line. Brad Miller raised his arms in triumph as he strutted home from third. Jean Segura was the first to hop the dugout fence, jumping up and down like the ground was a trampoline. "LET'S GO," Harper screamed, most certainly in all caps, as he booked it around the bases in 20 seconds' time, coming at home plate like he was a bowling ball and his celebrating teammates were the pins.
It was a game that the Phillies have been apart of many times before. Most times, they were on the other side, the dejected losers walking off the field with heads hung low wondering how it just happened again. The Cubs have to be feeling that too - they've been abysmal on the road all season long, and despite an insanely talented roster, sit just one game ahead of the Brewers and Phillies for the second Wild Card in the National League.
But on this night, which started as ordinary but became something special by the end of it, the Phillies were reminded of the high of winning baseball. Harper's 413-blast completed a sweep against a opponent the Phillies will be battling with for the next six weeks (and maybe longer), as their quest to end an 8-year Postseason drought, the fifth longest active streak in baseball, remains goal number one.
It seemed that dream was fading fast on Monday morning. They had lost their previous three series, all against sub-.500 teams, allowing 5.6 runs per game over 3-7 nightmare. It wasn't the first slump of the season, but it needs to be the last if the Phillies are to play in October. This isn't the first "season-saving victory" either - but this time, the Phillies need to sustain the magic and go on the run that this flawed, battered, yet still talented team is capable of. It's hittin' season again in Philly, but the wins need to keep flowing for the fans to remain satisfied.
If it does, than maybe, just maybe, the Phillies and their fans can look back at this stretch run someday with the same words that came out of Bryce Harper's drenched, but not defeated mouth in the best post-game interview of all time:
"That was sick!"