Phillies keep cool, win game they used to lose, go up two in wild-card race

ST. LOUIS – How many times have you seen him over the last decade of mostly losing seasons and baseball completely without the playoffs?

The Phillies rally, take a late lead, then implode under the weight of poor defense and poor bullpen work.

Not this time.

The Phillies survived a ninth inning under pressure to beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 1-0, at Busch Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

“It felt a bit like playoff baseball, I guess,” said Alec Bohm, who endured a ninth-inning trip through the meat grinder to come out like a tenderloin. “I’ve never experienced that, but it’s kind of what you imagine.”

There was so much going on in this one, so much going into round nine, let’s start with an important fact:

The Phils, now 25-10 since June 1 and seven games above a season-high .500, opened this series with two straight wins to win two games over the Cardinals for control of third and final place. wildcard in the National League. . There’s plenty of baseball left, plenty of time to move up or down the standings, but if the Phils end up tied with the Cardinals for a wildcard spot at the end of the season, they’ll win because they won the series of season. The Phils are 4-1 against the Cardinals with two games left, Sunday and Monday. (The Phils also won their season series with Milwaukee, another team that may be in the credits photo.)

The Phils will rely on their bullpen to get through Sunday afternoon’s game. Right-hander Nick Nelson will start. Left-hander Cristopher Sanchez will also be there. The bullpen has been sensational the past 16 games (just four earned runs in 50 innings for a 0.72 ERA) and it’s once again in Saturday’s win. The starting rotation has also shone lately, especially against the Cardinals. The Phils have beaten the Cardinals three times in three games this calendar week. All three were shutout wins. Zack Wheeler twice delivered seven shutout innings. Kyle Gibson, rebounding from two poor starts, pitched seven shutout innings on Saturday.

Cardinals right-hander Dakota Hudson tied zeros with Gibson in six innings. The game was scoreless entering the ninth. Manager Rob Thomson thought about pinching for Darick Hall against southpaw Genesis Cabrera in the seventh – Hall hadn’t faced a southpaw in his big league week – but decided against it because he wanted to keep Hall’s bat in the lineup for later in the game.

“It crossed my mind,” Thomson said. “But I know he comes back in ninth. It worked. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but it worked today.”

It worked because Hall hit a brace in the ninth against Giovanny Gallegos. The Phils turned that into the only run of the game after a bunt hit by Didi Gregorius and a sacrifice fly from Bohm, the same guy who homered twice in Friday night’s 2-0 win.

With Seranthony Dominguez unavailable, Thomson asked Corey Knebel to get the final three outs for the first time since losing the job of closest. Knebel did, but he had to survive a walk and a mistake from Bohm to do it. He got the last three outs with a man on third and the last two with men on second and third.

The big plays of the inning were a strikeout from the dangerous Nolan Arenado for the first out and a super heads-up from first baseman Rhys Hoskins and second baseman Bryson Stott on a ground fly by Dylan Carlson. Juan Yepez, the potential tying point, froze third in the game – Hoskins said he was surprised Yepez didn’t make the break to head home – and Knebel didn’t make the break to cover in first. But Stott covered the base with alert and the Phils retired, 4-3 on your scoreboard. Knebel then got Corey Dickerson on a fly ball right to end the game.

Phew!

Bohm has only been there three seasons, but he knows the Phillies have lost a lot of games like this. He’s been through a few. And after his mistake…

“You see something like this happen and you think you’ve seen this movie before,” he said. “You see where this is going. But then Corey comes in big and gets Arenado. You see this and you’re like, ‘Okay, we have a chance to get through this.

“Darick had this big double. Didi gets a hit, and I get one deep enough to score a run. Then I turn around in the bottom half of the inning and make a pretty crucial mistake. But it is what this team does. We picked each other up. Corey was there to pick me up. Rhys and Stotter made a big play and we got away with it.

Hoskins also lived through games like this, games the Phillies lost.

“They did it to us,” he said of the Cardinals.

“I obviously never played in October,” Hoskins continued, “but these types of rounds, these types of situations, especially on the road – this is probably our best chance to feel (what October is like) before to get there.”

Consider this a successful test.

“Everyone kept their cool and did a great job,” Thomson said.

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