The Phillies’ excellent run of six straight wins came to a screeching halt with an Aaron Nola implosion on Saturday. They were right back at it Sunday, however, taking the rubber match against an excellent Dodgers team to secure the series victory.
Taijuan Walker was brilliant over 5.0 innings, yielding only two hits and two walks, while striking out five Dodgers. The right-hander was pulled after only 83 pitches, with Manager Rob Thomson citing a lefty-heavy spot in the lineup and the third time through the order as his reasoning for the quick hook. Many fans were quick to judge this move, as southpaw Gregory Soto immediately served up a solo homer to Freddie Freeman, but the Phils’ lead remained intact heading into the later innings.
Seranthony Domínguez yielded a run of his own in the seventh, and José Alvarado walked a tightrope in the eighth, walking two and giving up a hit, but got away with only one run allowed. Craig Kimbrel was nails once again in the ninth, fanning two in a clean inning of work.
At the plate, the Phils didn’t let up in this rubber match, jumping on Dodgers opener Caleb Ferguson early. The resurgent Trea Turner kicked things off with a one-out single up the middle, and Nick Castellanos kept the line moving with a base hit of his own. Bryce Harper blooped one into left to score Turner, and the Phils had an early lead.
Turner set the table once more in the third, leading off the frame with a double. Castellanos flew out and Harper walked to bring up Alec Bohm. Bohm struggled mightily in his first game back from injury, striking out three times and grounding into a double play. Bohm punched out in the third, and it was up to Bryson Stott with two on and two out. Stott delivered with a floater single to shallow center field to score both runners.
It was backup catcher Garrett Stubbs’ turn in the bottom of the sixth, as he strode to the plate with runners on the corners and one out. Stubbs laid down a perfect safety squeeze bunt for an RBI single, and the Phils had their fourth run of the game. Unfortunately, Brandon Marsh got a bit too aggressive on the play, being thrown out at third.
Trea Turner kicked off one more big inning in the seventh with a line drive single to left, his third hit of the day. Castellanos launched a ball into deep center field that cleared the wall, opening up a 6-2 Phillies lead. Bryson Stott later tripled with two outs, and Kody Clemens brought him home with a single.
The Phillies have been playing marvelous baseball this past week, and this Dodgers series was going to be a big test. They beat up on the Nationals and Tigers, but it was anyone’s guess what would happen against one of the best. They snuck out a walk-off win on Friday, and then got demolished on Saturday, but Sunday’s rubber match was a good reminder that this team is much better than the middling group we watched the first two months of the season.