Phillies Game Story

World Series preview? Phillies win drama-packed marathon to start series in Baltimore 

It's hard to imagine a game could have more drama than the Phillies’ 11-inning victory Friday night over the Orioles. 

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BALTIMORE — It was just a single game in the middle of June with so much baseball yet to be played. No bunting hung from the railings. The leaves on the trees in center field were still green and the air was soft and summery. Still, ya gotta believe that every one of the sellout 43,987 had this phrase at least cross their mind:

Possible World Series preview.

And why not? The Orioles started play with the second best run differential, plus-107, in all of baseball. The Phillies were third at plus-103.

The O’s had one of their top starters, Kyle Bradish, on the mound. So did the Phils, who handed the ball to Ranger Suárez.

Baltimore was 45-23 (.662). Philadelphia was a game better at 46-22 (.676).

Only time will tell if the long and winding roads ahead of these two teams will converge again in late October. But if they do, it’s hard to imagine that any of the games could pack more drama than what played out at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Friday night.

“The atmosphere was tremendous,” said Phillies manager Rob Thomson. “We had a lot of fans here. It went back and forth. That was probably the most exciting game we’ve had this year. It was like a playoff game.”

The Phillies won, 5-3, in 11 innings when Alec Bohm drove in the winning runs with a double. But not before:

Kyle Schwarber started the game with his second leadoff homer in three days, The Orioles tied the score in the bottom of the third on the only run Suárez would allow. Third string catcher Rafael Marchán, playing only because J.T. Realmuto is on the injured list following knee surgery, homered to put the Phillies back up in the fifth.

Marchán also helped Suárez out of a first and second, nobody out situation in the fourth by pouncing on a bunt and cutting down the lead runner at third.

Phillies reliever Matt Strahm, who had gone 27 straight games without allowing an earned run, had his streak abruptly ended when righthander Rafael Santander tied the score with a two-out solo homer, sending the game into extra innings.

With two outs and the bases loaded in the top of the 10th, Schwarber rifled a single to right. Edmundo Sosa scored but Santander gunned down pinch-runner Johan Rojas, who didn’t get as much of a secondary lead from second as he should have, at the plate. The Phillies appealed, but replay review upheld the call.

With two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the inning, it was Baltimore’s turn to load the bases with two down. Phillies reliever Orion Kerkering crossed up Marchán — the call was slider, the pitch was a fastball — allowing the ball to go to the backstop. But it caromed off the wall behind the plate to Marchán, who dove toward the plate to tag Cedric Mullins trying to score from third.

Home plate umpire Charlie Ramos signaled emphatically. Out! The Phillies started to celebrate. Not so fast. Mullins waved his hands. Now it was the Orioles who wanted the replay office in New York to take a look. This time the call was overturned. The score was tied again.

“If (Marchán) doesn’t slip, he gets Mullins,” Thomson said. “He just spun his wheels.” 

Kerkering got the final out. On to the eleventh inning. Heh heh heh. On a night like this you just knew it wasn’t going to be that easy. Before Nick Castellanos could step to the plate to try, try again, heavy rains hit downtown Baltimore and the tarp had to be rolled onto the field.

Play resumed after a delay of one hour, 11 minutes.

By winning, the Phillies avoided their second-three-game losing streak in three weeks. And for any Phillies fans in the stands who saw their bottle of National Bohemian beer as half-empty because the toughest part of the Phillies schedule is still ahead, it was the team’s best win of the year as measured by opponent’s record. If it was a test, they passed.

“Our guys responded,” said Thomson, who certainly managed it like more than just Game 69 out of 162.

He lifted Suárez after just 88 pitches, with two outs and a runner on first in the seventh, bringing in righthander Jeff Hoffman to get the percentage matchup advantage against Jordan Westburg. And also had lefty Strahm warming up in case lefthanded-swinging cleanup hitter Gunnar Henderson came to the plate.

The sellout, by the way, was the first the Orioles have had since Opening Day. It’s a pretty good bet they’ll have two more by the time the Phils leave town Sunday evening.

Thomson wanted to make an opening statement before he took any questions from the media after the game.

“First of all, I just want to say that we have the greatest fans in the world,” he said. “They stay to the end. That was pretty cool and our guys really appreciated it.”

In return, the fans were treated to a cracking good game.

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