With the Phillies steaming toward their second straight playoff berth, the boys won a tense, ballgame against the Braves in Atlanta on Wednesday, coming out on top 6-5 after 10 innings. Overall, they took 2 of 3 in the series against the NL East division leaders. If the Phils win their wild card round, a rematch is guaranteed.
Wednesday’s pivotal play occurred in the bottom of the 9th, with the score tied 4-4.
Luke Williams, a speedy runner who’d already stolen two bases that inning, was on third with one out and Orlando Arcia at the plate. A well-placed ground ball or a fly ball hit anywhere from medium-to-deep outfield would score the winning run.
In case you missed it, here’s what happened.
It was a game-saving play that sent the affair into extra innings — but it almost broke Phils’ color announcer and fan favorite John Kruk, who could be heard screaming on the broadcast for Castellanos to let the ball fall foul.
Kruk, and many others, believed the ball, if caught, would be deep enough to allow Williams to score the winning run. Let it drop, and pitcher Craig Kimbrel has a chance to induce a weaker fly ball, a grounder hit to an infielder, or best of all, a strikeout (the count was 2-2).
All those are valid points. But there was a voice inside of Castellanos that told him to ignore the screams from Kruk in the broadcast booth.
Independent analysts have broken down the play and have concluded that the voice inside Castellanos’ brain, which I like to think has the voice of an evil Scooby-Doo, was correct after all.
Gotta say, in real time, I felt it was the right decision.
Kimbrel had walked the leadoff hitter and Ronald Acuna Jr. was up next. If he lets it drop into foul ground, there’s a very good chance Kimbrel walks him, bringing the likely NL MVP to the plate. While Nick doesn’t exactly possess a cannon out in right field, he was not in deeeep right field. He was about mid-way, which is the 50/50 mark for sending a runner home.
In the end, it all worked out. Bryson Stott slapped a two-out, two-run double to left, Matt Strahm held on in the bottom of the 10th, and the Phils got a spirit-lifting win heading into the final 10 games of the season, still clutching a solid lead for the NL’s top wild card spot and homefield advantage in the first round of the playoffs.