The Phillies opened up a nine-game homestand Monday night with a prime opportunity to create space in the NL wild card race as the San Francisco Giants rolled into town. With both clubs currently holding two of the three spots, a late August series like this has the potential to boost momentum heading into the final stretch of the season.
Good thing the Phillies brought their A-game.
A 10-4 win puts them three games up over the Giants in the wild card standings and 11 games over .500.
The energy throughout the crowd of 36,274 at Citizens Bank Park brought an energy similar to the playoffs (yes, in August). Combine that with a night where the offense looked like a well-oiled machine and a solid outing from Aaron Nola? It was the perfect recipe.
"Every team I feel like plays really well at home, but it's just a little bit different here with the fans that we do have," said Harper. "We love coming here playing — we just love being at home.
"Any chance possible, right?"
Nola went seven innings strong, allowing five hits, two runs and struck out five. While Nola did give up a pair of solo home runs through the first three innings, it falls very low on the list of concerns when they were the only two runs he allowed.
"It was nice to go seven," Nola said following the win. "I hadn't gone too deep the past several outings and it was nice to get back out there in the seventh and finish that one off.
"Great game overall — defense was outstanding and the guys smashed the baseball today."
Joc Pederson’s home run in the top of the first would be the only lead the Giants held throughout the game — and it lasted less than an inning.
Giants manager Gabe Kapler optioned to use Scott Alexander as an opener. Trea Turner doubled to get on base and a Bryce Harper single drove him home. Alexander only lasted two-thirds of an inning, allowing three hits and the one earned run before Kapler pulled the plug and brought in Sean Manaea.
From that point on, it was the Phillies’ night.
Alec Bohm had a three-hit night and an even more impressive defensive showing at first base. Edmundo Sosa had a two-run home run, tripled and 2 RBI. Johan Rojas tripled and tacked on 2 RBI. The list goes on and on with this performance.
The entire lineup had at least one hit, while six players had multi-hit games. They collectively had four home runs (including an inside the park), two triples, two doubles and toss in eight singles for a cherry on top.
Harper’s home run
Harper’s 10th home run of the season has the potential to go down as one of the most memorable of the season. Sure, it was a game when the Phillies already held the lead … but that doesn’t matter. Harper continues to exude what it means to be a Phillie.
His inside the park home run was the Phillies’ first since J.T. Realmuto’s in the 2022 NLDS against the Braves.
Back and forth bullpen
After missing six weeks with left elbow inflammation, Jose Alvarado was activated from the 15-day injured list prior to Monday's game.
With Nola’s solid seven innings, he was able to have another day of rest. Given the magnitude of this series — saving Alvarado for when he’s needed most is the best case scenario.
Matt Strahm was locked in during the eighth inning, striking out two and making the path to the end of the game that much clearer.
There was a minor thud in the road when Dylan Covey came in to close out the game and struggled heavily to find the strike zone. He allowed two hits, walked two, hit Luis Matos with a pitch and allowed two runs.
The Phillies had their insurance runs — the only thing it really did was kill the momentum for a few minutes until Jeff Hoffman came in. The momentum pendulum shifted once more as Bohm’s double play put that final out in reach. J.D Davis popped out to Rojas and just like that, the ballpark was electric once more.
While this technically was not a must-win game, the Phillies sure played like it. If they can find a way to maintain this throughout the remainder of this series, that top wild card spot might as well be a lock.
The road ahead
Taijuan Walker takes the mound Tuesday against lefty Kyle Harrison, who is making his debut for the Giants. The series wraps up Wednesday with Michael Lorenzen making his first start at home since his no-hitter on Aug. 9. He’ll be up against Alex Cobb, who has dropped his last two games.