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Kody Clemens leads Phillies to wild comeback win over team that traded him

Against the team that traded him, Kody Clemens drilled a game-winning single to right with two outs in the ninth to give the Phillies a 3-2 win.

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Nick Maton and Matt Vierling were popular role players for the Phillies last season. So when they were traded to the Tigers for reliever Gregory Soto a week after the New Year’s ball dropped in Time Square, fans took note.

The Phillies got another guy in that deal, infielder Kody Clemens. Since he’s 26 and batted .145 in 57 games for Detroit last year, he might have gone unnoticed except for the fact that he’s the son of seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens. Still, it wasn’t apparent what role there might be for him.

The baseball gods work in mysterious ways. First baseman Rhys Hoskins tore the ACL in his left knee during spring training. Darick Hall was the next man up. He played just six games before going on the IL with a sprained thumb. Third baseman Alec Bohm was moved to first with Clemens getting occasional starts. Then Bohm strained a hamstring.

As a result, Clemens started at first base for the ninth time in the Phillies last 11 games Thursday night at Citizens Bank Park. His father was in attendance. And against the team that traded him, he drilled a game-winning single to right with two outs in the ninth to give the Phillies a 3-2 win. It was an incredible ending to a most topsy-turvy game.

John Kruk: Phillies 'did what they had to do' sweeping the Detroit Tigers

Starter Zack Wheeler took a no-hitter into the eighth with the Phillies leading, 1-0. Four batters later, he was out of the game and the Tigers had tied the score. Detroit took the lead against Craig Kimbrel in the top of the ninth.

Clemens sent the crowd home happy after the Phillies fifth straight win, trying their longest streak of the year. You really can’t make this stuff up.

“It was amazing,” he said. “It felt really great. I have no ill will against the Tigers. But it does feel pretty good after they trade you away and you win the game.”

Bryce Harper led off the ninth with a double against Alex Lange, the fifth Tigers pitcher. Trea Turner worked a walk and, with one out, Bryson Stott reached on an infield single to load the bases. Harper scored on Brandon Marsh’s sacrifice fly and then Clemens ended it with a clean single to right.

In his last 16 games, 14 of them starts, he’s hitting .333 (17-for-51).

“Obviously, you don’t like to see people get injured, but it got me an opportunity to come up here and help this team win,” he said. “I finally got an opportunity and it’s been great so far. I’m just trying to show everyone what I’m capable of and trust in my ability to go out there and play at this level.”

He understands, of course, how quickly things can change. Bohm, for example, could be activated as early as Saturday. Harper is working out at first base as his surgically-repaired elbow continues to get stronger.

He also understands that, if he plays well, all that will take care of itself.


Bryce Harper has never been shy about pushing the Phillies to do what it takes to improve and he made another pitch after Thursday night’s game.

To the observation that Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Taijuan Walker and Ranger Suarez each pitched well his last time out, Harper added: “Any time you can have that opportunity to have four games go out and dominate. But we still need that fifth, right? So hopefully we can get whoever that is or whatever that may be to kind of put a little bit less pressure on our bullpen.”


The atmospheric fallout from Canadian wildfires that forced Wednesday’s scheduled game against the Tigers to be postponed remained a topic of conversation before Thursday night’s makeup. Conditions were improved although the air quality index was still listed as unhealthy.

“Everybody’s comfortable,” manager Rob Thomson said. “We’ve got air purifiers (in the clubhouse). So we’re just going to tell them, as much as they can, when they get off the field, go on inside and get some fresh air.”

As an added precaution, neither team took pregame batting practice on the field.

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