Talk about a nail biter, folks. The Phillies escaped Sunday’s contest with a 4-3 win over the Nationals to take the series win over the Nats and improve to 3-3 to start the young season.
Jeremy Hellickson toed the hill against Stephen Strasburg on a beautiful Sunday afternoon for baseball from Citizens Bank Park.
Freddy Galvis got the scoring going as he singled in Tommy Joseph to put the Phils up 1-0 in the bottom of the 2nd inning. Hellickson followed on the mound with another scoreless frame in the 3rd, as he shut down the Nats in his first time through the order. He was able to get through the 4th inning after allowing an Adam Eaton walk and a Daniel Murphy single to give the Nats some life, but he set down Adam Lind on a ground ball to Cesar Hernandez to strand both runners on.
The score held pat until the 5th inning where the Phillies put up 2 more runs thanks to Andrew Knapp starting the inning with his first major league hit, a double to get things going for the Phils. He then scored on a single by Cesar Hernandez. Cesar came home right after that on an RBI double by Howie Kendrick to put the Phils up 3-0 after 5 innings.
Jeremy Hellickson came out to the mound to start the 6th inning, but after a few warmup pitches he came up lame as it appeared he did something to his throwing hand. Hellickson, after 5 shutout innings of 1-hit baseball, was removed from the game and replaced by Joaquin Benoit to begin the 6th.
It was later announced that Hellickson was removed due to a right forearm cramp. All signs point to it being more of a precautionary change and he should be okay to make his next start.
A combination of Benoit in the 6th, Neshek and Neris in the 7th, and Hector Neris staying in the 8th to make a rare inning-plus appearance, kept the shutout alive. The Phillies were unable to tack on any more runs in the 8th, so this game would head into the 9th inning still remaining a 3-0 Phils lead.
Here’s where the fun starts.
Jeanmar Gomez, who was given the closer’s job out of spring training, entered the game for the Phillies to close it out in the 9th. Pete Mackanin had mentioned that he would be on a relatively short leash heading into the year, and his shaky appearance on Opening Day against the Reds proved why. He ended up getting the save, but not before giving up a 2-run home run to make it a 1-run game. Today, unfortunately, there was one more man on base.
After Daniel Murphy grounded out to start the inning, Adam Lind reached on a single, followed by a Jayson Werth walk. Stephen Drew came up as the tying run, but Gomez was able to set him down on strikes. Ryan Zimmerman entered the game as a pinch hitter for Nats catcher Jose Lobaton. In traditional Jeanmar fashion, he served up a juicy pitch for Zimmerman on a 2-0 count, which Zimmerman sent into the seats in left field. The first blown save of the year for Gomez makes it a 3-3 tie in the top of the 9th. Matt Weiters followed with a double, but Gomez was able to get Adam Eaton to ground out to finally end the misery.
Jeanmar Gomez’s leash, as mentioned, was short coming in, and after the game Pete Mackanin said that he would “have a talk with him” in reference to his closer job.
As we headed into the bottom of the 9th inning, Koda Glover entered the game for the Nationals to face Daniel Nava, the pinch hitter to start the inning. He was able to draw a 4-pitch walk to start things off. Andrew Knapp followed with a fly out, but Freddy Galvis was able to single to put runners on 1st and 3rd with 1 out for Brock Stassi. Trying to be the hero, Stassi ended up popping out to Daniel Murphy to make it 2 outs in the inning.
Cesar Hernandez, who already had an RBI hit in the game, stepped up as the last chance to save this game from going into extras. On a 1-1 slider that jammed Cesar and broke his bat, he was able to get the ball to fall into shallow left field for the walk-off winner. Hernandez was able to pick up the slack for Jeanmar Gomez and give the Phillies a 4-3 win to give themselves their first series win of the year.
This team seems to be a very gritty bunch of guys. The walk-off winner today, as well as the 6-run comeback where they fell just short of a win on Friday, has us fans excited for things to come this year.
As for Jeanmar Gomez, it appears that his time as the Phillies closer could be coming to a very loud ending. As we touched on before Christmas, Gomez was amongst a few candidates to possibly take reigns of the 9th inning for the Phils in spring training. As it turns out, the higher percentage of our fans picked Gomez as their guy to take the job, as did Pete Mackanin. This was more of a prediction I suppose in reference to our fans, as it is clear that, especially after today, not many people are big fans of Gomez holding the closer’s role for the foreseeable future.
This will be something to monitor in the coming days for the 3-3 Phillies. They will play host to the rival New York Mets for a 3-game series starting tomorrow night, as Jerad Eickhoff will be looking for more run support in his second start of the year against the Mets’ Jacob deGrom. Let’s hope that they can stretch out a 3-game winning streak early in April.
Photo: Michael Baron (Via: Flickr)
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