Despite rain, poor officiating and another implosion from Taijuan Walker, the Phillies took home a 6-5 victory against the Mariners on Wednesday night. Bryson Stott, J.T. Realmuto and the entire bullpen had terrific performances, but one man in particular powered the Phils to victory: Nick Castellanos.
Castellanos was much maligned in 2022, as the $100 million free agent acquisition languished in his first season in Philadelphia, posting a brutal .263/.305/.389 line. There were many reasons given for his struggles, ranging from struggles settling into a new home, to a May wrist injury that lingered through the season. Whatever the case may be, it has been a completely different story in 2023. Across 106 Plate appearances thus far, Castellanos has posted an outstanding .333/.396/.531 line, while peppering in 10 doubles and 16 RBI.
Three of those runs batted in came on Thursday, as he crushed an opposite-field two-run shot in the first inning to start the scoring, and drove in another with a single up the middle in the bottom of the fifth. Overall Castellanos had a 3-4 showing with three RBI and two runs scored, accounting for five of the Phils six runs.
The Phillies needed all the offense they could get in this one, as terrible umpiring and Taijuan Walker’s blowup put the team in an early hole. With the Phils up 2-0 in the top of the second Walker got two quick outs before completely losing his ability to hit the strike zone. He walked Cal Raleigh on four pitches, at least one of which should have been called a strike, then surrendered a swinging bunt single to AJ Pollock, and walked Kolten Wong to load the bases. After a mound visit from Pitching Coach Caleb Cotham, Walker grooved a first-pitch fastball to former Phillies J.P. Crawford which Crawford turned on and smoked out to deep center field for a demoralizing grand slam. Julio Rodriguez then went back-to-back with a solo shot of his own to make it 5-2 Mariners.
As deflating as the second inning was, the Phillies did an excellent job of stopping the bleeding, as Walker pitched two more scoreless innings before the bullpen was lights out for five more. Luis Ortiz was remarkable, tossing 2.0 scoreless frames, surrendering only a single hit and punching out two. Seranthony Domínguez continued to right the ship with a scoreless inning of his own, and Craig Kimbrel set up the comeback with a clean eighth inning to keep things at 5-4 Mariners..
The bottom of the eighth saw the Phillies pass the baton perfectly against Mariners reliever Justin Topa. Castellanos led things off with a ground ball single to left, and after an extraordinarily close foul call on a ball laced down the left field line, Brandon Marsh singled to right to put runners on the corners with no one out. Realmuto picked up his second hit of the day with a single up the middle to knot things up at five apiece. They weren’t done there though, as Alec Bohm snuck a grounder through the left side of the infield to score Marsh and put the Phils on top 6-5.
They weren’t able to tack on any more, but it didn’t matter as the unhittable José Alvarado came on to lock up the save. He didn’t look quite himself, as he struggled with his command a bit and yielded a double to Crawford, but his sinker sat right around 100 miles per hour and he struck out two en route to a 6-5 Phillies win.
Much has been said about the Phillies’ inability to staunch the bleeding when pitchers get into trouble, and the lack of production with runners in scoring position. Those issues have consistently bugged the team this year, but at least on Thursday they executed both flawlessly.