It almost happened again. But, this time, it didn’t happen.
It, of course, is the Phillies bullpen going full meltdown, typically, in excruciating fashion.
Despite an impressive Phillies debut from Heath Hembree and a solid 1-2-3 inning out of Tommy Hunter, the conclusion to Sunday night’s game in Atlanta looked to be yet another horror story finish penned by a group of struggling relievers.
Then, Roman Quinn, Didi Gregorius, and Andrew Knapp teamed up to execute a game-saving play, one that, at least for the time being, temporarily saved the Phillies’ season.
That #Phillies ending was nuts
Victorino 2008 vibes.
— Nick Piccone (@nickpiccone) August 24, 2020
Note: Credit to Nick Piccone for clipping this with the Scott Franzke call. He’s right about the 2008 Victorino vibes.
Just a beautifully executed play from all aspects in a high pressure situation. Overlooked will be the effort of Quinn, who somehow gathered enough momentum to accurately throw a glove-side dart to Gregorius. The relay throw, which brought Knapp directly into the path of a charging Dansby Swanson, while not perfect because of a difficult short hop, helped naturally prevent a path to the plate.
But the catcher gets the glory on this one. It takes textbook concentration and execution to make this play. Knapp simultaneously handled the tough second hop with the game-tying runner barreling down on him and applied the tag.
“I think we kind of knew he was going to go. It was a great relay,” Knapp said. “Thankfully, that throw kind of took me into the line, so I was kind of able to take it into the tag with me. I just knew that whether or not I had the ball, I wasn’t really going to let him get to the plate. It was kind of a do or die play, and I ended up coming up with it.”
Damn right he did.
In doing so, Knapp prevented the Phillies from blowing their fifth multi-run lead (six total leads) in five days, while also helping the team win on a night in which Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto went just a combined 1-for-10 with five strikeouts.
Who knows what will become of their season, but if the Phillies do sneak into what remains a wide-open National League playoff field, the play is likely to be recognized as the turning point.
Good for Knapp, honestly. I give the guy a ton of credit for how he’s bounced back from a hideous 2019 season in which he hit .213 with a .642 OPS. He took a lot of heat (some of it justified) from the fans and, admittedly, people such as myself.
He could’ve easily let his own struggles and the outside noise get to him. He could’ve easily folded. He didn’t.
Instead, he’s finding different ways to contribute whenever he’s on the field this season.
Through 22 plate appearances, Knapp is 9-for-20 (.450) with an 1.100 OPS and has been one of the most pleasant surprises of a Phillies season rife with unpleasant developments.
He may have also put the exclamation point on a play that saved that, at least for the time being, helped save the Phillies’ season.