They’re already giving us moments.
Red October returned to Philly this week and your Fightin’ Phils took full advantage of a newbie Miami Marlins team that was most decidedly not ready for prime time. After taking the first game 4-1, the Phillies completed their sweep by annihilating the Fish 9-1 in Game 2.
You know what that means — a rematch against the Atlanta Braves in the best-of-five divisional round of the playoffs beginning Saturday night.
Last year’s Phillies gave fans a slew of memorable moments to keep them warm throughout the winter and, through two games, the ‘23 version hasn’t let us down.
Rhys’s first pitch
Rhys Hoskins is in Clearwater as he rehabs and tries to make it back from a torn ACL in time to be ready for the World Series, should the Phillies advance that far. If they don’t, Hoskins may have made his last appearance in front of the Citizens Bank Park faithful when he was called on to throw out the first pitch before Game 1.
It brings a tear to the eye.
Bohm breaks through
Alec Bohm has been the Phillies’ best hitter with runners in scoring position all season and after flying out with runners on 2nd and 3rd with nobody out in the 1st off Jesus Luzardo, he had another opportunity to drive in the game’s first run with a runner on 2nd and two out. This time, Bohm came through.
Just as he’s done all season.
Harper tells Dusty Wathan ‘No’
With the Phillies looking for an insurance run in the bottom of the 8th in Game 1, Harper led off the inning with a bloop single. That was followed by a line-drive double down the left field line by Nick Castellanos. For most normal athletes, it’s a 50/50 chance the runner on 1st scores on that play.
Bryce Harper is not a normal athlete.
Yes, third base coach Dusty Wathan put the “stop” sign up for Harper, but after the game, Harper said he was running so hard, he didn’t see him. Regardless, the play at the plate wasn’t close, and Harper scored their fourth run in electric fashion.
Craig Kimbrel’s balk
In one of the funnier moments of the opening series, Phillies’ closer Craig Kimbrel took the mound in the 9th inning of Game 1 protecting a three-run lead. With a runner on 2nd and two out, Kimbrel was concerned the baserunner would be able to look at his grip and see what pitch he was going to throw and relay that to the hitter. So, he did this.
By dropping the ball on the ground while standing on the pitching rubber, Kimbrel balked the runner over to 3rd base. Because it didn’t make any difference whether that runner was on 2nd or 3rd, it’s a humorous looking moment resembling when a 2-year-old is handed a piece of food he doesn’t want to eat.
Zack Wheeler + Aaron Nola
In Game 1, Wheeler had lightning bolts in his hands.
In Game 2, we saw vintage Aaron Nola.
The two hurlers combined for 13 ⅔ innings and allowed just eight hits, one walk and one run with 11 strikeouts. Filth.
Bryson Stott’s slam
Coming into Game 2, only one Phillie had ever hit a grand slam in the playoffs: Shane Victorino, with a memorable blast in the 2008 NLDS against C.C. Sabathia.
On Wednesday night, Bryson Stott salted the series away with the second.
That angle says everything about the moment. The crowd was delirious. Stott’s bat spike. His teammates’ reaction. Everything.
There were a slew of other moments we didn’t include here, but these were the ones that stood out the most to me. Make sure to catch the latest edition of Hittin’ Season for a full recap of both games, as we now have to wait until Saturday to watch Red October invade Atlanta once again!