It wasn’t particularly pretty, but it worked. The Phillies finished off a quick two-game sweep of the Blue Jays Wednesday afternoon with a thrilling 2-1 come-from-behind win. The winning run was only made possible by virtue of awful defense, but after how miserable the Phillies looked last week, they’ll take any sort of win they can get.
Zack Wheeler was brilliant on Wednesday, tossing 7.0 strong innings, surrendering only one run on a Brandon Belt solo homer, three hits and one walk, while fanning seven. Wheeler looked like his old Cy Young-caliber self, as he shut the Jays down all afternoon. Unfortunately, the Phillies couldn’t get anything going against his counterpart Kevin Gausman, and Wheeler left the game in line for the loss. Gausman matched Wheeler pitch for pitch, blanking the Phils over 6.0 frames, yielding three hits and walking none, while punching out nine.
This game flew by in less than three hours despite it going into extra innings, largely due to the lack of offense. The Phillies were able to scratch across the tying run in the bottom of the ninth, and it all started with Bryce Harper.
Harper singled up the middle to kick things off, and Nick Castellanos then reached on what was scored an infield hit. He grounded one to Jays second baseman Santiago Espinal, who passed up a possible force out at second base and threw wildly to first to allow Castellanos to reach. With two on and no one out the mercurial Kyle Schwarber struck out swinging, before J.T. Realmuto bailed him out with a laser beam double to left field to knot things up at one. The Phils weren’t able to get another run across, and the game went to the tenth.
Craig Kimbrel continued his Jekyll and Hyde act with a much more Dr. Jekyll appearance, striking out two in a one-two-three top of the inning. The Phillies were set to walk off the Jays with a runner on second to begin the bottom of the tenth.
After failing to get a bunt down to lead off the inning, Bryson Stott struck out swinging, and Trea Turner worked a walk to put two on and one out for Bryce Harper. Harper grounded one right back at Jays reliever Tim Mayza, who delivered a perfect feed to shortstop Bo Bichette to record the out at second base. Bichette then airmailed his throw past Vladimir Guerrero Jr. at first, allowing Harper to reach base safely while Edmundo Sosa steamed home. A fortuitous bounce allowed Guerrero to fire home for a play at the plate, but Sosa got his hand in just ahead of the tag to deliver the Phils an incredible 2-1 win.
We’ve seen it all from this Phillies team in 2023, with incredible high peaks, and rock bottom valleys. The same team that looked completely lost last week has now rattled off three straight wins and sits only 1.0 game back of a playoff spot. Wednesday’s win wasn’t the greatest display of baseball excellence, as this feast or famine offense almost wasted a brilliant outing from the team’s co-ace. However, in the quest to repeat as National League champions, the Phillies will need all the wins they can get, and they’ll take them any way they can.