Homer was a two-rounder in the eighth game of Game Five of the National League Championship Series on Sunday, sending the Philadelphia Phillies to 3-4 Victory over the San Diego Padres and a berth in the World Series, that first franchise since 2009. The Houston Astros or the New York Yankees are waiting for you.
The blast was Harper’s fifth in the postseason. At this point, he was as close to the 1928 Babe Ruth or 1977 Reggie Jackson approximation as seen in baseball in the Octobers recently. It hits .419 by 1.351 on a plus deceleration basis. It is the center of the cosmos, the gravity of which is like that of a thousand suns.
When Ranger Suarez retired from catching Padres Austin Nola on a volley to the right to finish the top of the ninth – a hairy half-stroke in which David Robertson’s right hand was pulled after issuing back-to-back walking runs – Phelez threw their gloves in the air and gathered in the center of the diamond to hold a victory party of Sure enough to rage at night.
“We have four more!” Harper shouted to a raucous crowd from the stage set up after second base, where the NLCS MVP Cup was presented. He was referring to the number of victories left to secure the championship. “We will make it happen [expletive] Home, boys! “
At the victorious Phillies’ Club, the first bottles of champagne were directed toward the unloved face of manager Rob Thomson, who took over the position. to kick out Joe Girardi In early June, when the team scored 22-29, he led them to a record 65-46 the rest of the way.
“It’s very special to me personally,” said Thompson, a senior junior league manager but a veteran of 37 seasons in professional baseball. “But there are a lot of players in this club who have never been to the qualifiers [before this year]. …I would probably be happier for them than anyone else.”
The 87 regular season wins were good enough for the Phillies to slip into the post-season as the sixth seed – an award that didn’t exist until this year’s supplement expansion. But they have turned into a powerhouse in the post-season, leading three teams – the St. Louis Cardinals, Atlanta Braves and now the Padres – that collectively outsold them by 22 games in the regular season standings. In three rounds, they are 9-2, including 5-0 at home.
“You can see us grow together, always with the feeling that if we go in … we’ll have a chance to compete,” said Dave Dombrowski, chief of baseball operations, who is looking for a third World Championship title. He won with the Florida Marlins in 1997 and the Boston Red Sox in 2018. “Our stars have gone up.”
The Phillies made little progress in most parts of the game, built on the Homer played by Rhys Hoskins in the third round and six or more distinct rounds of ace Zack Wheeler. But carrying that lead home would be a daunting task, due to Padres’ resilience and deteriorating elements.
Much of the game was played under light rain and steady winds, masking the downtown skyline in the distance in an eerie blanket of mist. Right behind the center, between the Stars and Stripes and the giant LED Liberty Bell that lights up after the Phillies Homers’ wins and wins, a pair of red flags fluttered in the gale-force winds—representing the only World Series titles in franchise history, from 1980 and 2008.
But the rain increased and sour the field at the top of seventh place, when Padres scored a pair of runs to take a 3-2 lead. The green light was scored on the third wild pitch of the inning by loyal Vélez Seranthony Dominguez — equaling the number of wild pitches he threw in the entire regular season, which spanned 51 innings.
The equalizer, directed to Wheeler, was scored on the RBI by Padres-appointed hitter Josh Bell, who scored twice against Dominguez. Pinch runner Jose Azucar finished third and then came home at the Dominguez Wildcats’ second and third. Suddenly, Padres led by the run.
Major League Baseball took a gamble even by trying to play on Sunday, with forecasts requiring light rain and a narrow window to corner the game. As the post-season schedule has been intense – fallout from the owners’ shutdown, delaying the start of the season – the traditional travel day between games 5 and 6 of the championship series has been eliminated. Had the Padres team won on Sunday, the teams would have met again in San Diego on Monday night. Sunday’s downpours would have thrown the rest of the post-season schedule into chaos.
In a sense, Homer Harper — on a 99-mph sinking of Padres’ Robert Suarez — knocked the MLB off the hook for what was surely a heavily scrutinized decision to play through the grueling rain in the seventh inning.
When Harper walked to the plate, with JT Realmuto at first base after one, an eerie calm reigned over Citizens Bank Park, as if the score was preordained. Padres may have contributed to this meaning by not bringing in Josh Hader, arguably the most indomitable loyalist in the game, and instead sticking with Suarez, who was in his second turn of the business.
Manager Bob Melvin said: “At the time, I had faith in Suarez.”
Harper, too, reacted like someone he expected to do exactly what he did. He celebrated other big hits with wild gestures and howls, as he did two seconds after his RBI In the game Saturday Night 4. Here, he looked into his lair, pointed to the word written on his chest – Feliz – and began his trot.
“No matter who was on the hill, Number 3 is made for this kind of moment,” Hoskins said. “And he did it again. None of us were surprised.”
The spring was miserable for the Phillies, who went two months without seeing the sunny side of the .500 and fired their manager. Beginning with a roar and ending in failure, the Velez offered little evidence that they had survived the post-season Gantlet that awaited them.
But autumn? Autumn has been great for these Phillies. And thanks in no small part to Harper’s scorching bat, he’ll run a little longer than anyone could have imagined here just a few weeks ago.
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