Phillies Defeat Protective Netting, Nationals to Claim Series Victory

Jun 6, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Members of the Philadelphia Phillies Grounds Crew pull the safety netting back into place after it collapsed during the eighth inning during their game against the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The late, great Tom Petty once sang that waiting is the hardest part.

So true. So true.

The Phillies waited nearly four weeks to snap a six-series winless streak before waiting 4 hours and 26 minutes on Sunday afternoon to secure a sloppy rubber match win over the Nationals.

They waited through a delay after home plate umpire Brian O’Nora was forced to leave the game with an illness. They waited through a shaky Vince Velasquez start. They waited through a fourth inning that featured nine total runs, and they waited through a crazy 20-minute eighth-inning delay after the netting behind home plate collapsed.

By the way, Tom McCarthy and John Kruk deserve an Emmy for their coverage throughout the delay.

This particular exchange was my favorite part.

“It’s just something to add to the day, I guess,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said after the game. “It was a long day, but it’s worth it when you win.”

Plus, it’s a hell of a story for rookie reliever Cristopher Sánchez to tell about his Major League debut one day.

Following the wait, the Phillies now sit at 28-30. No blame coming from this direction if you’re not buying into this team after a rare series win, but it remains an important one for a scuffling squad that needs to start stacking some victories.

One thing is clear 58 games into this Phillies’ season — this is an incomplete team. The roster will need help over the next seven weeks if its going to do anything of significance in 2021, but it must first demonstrate that shopping for in-season upgrades is a worthwhile exercise.

But the Phillies had to start somewhere, and fortunately for them, the Nationals were more than willing to help out on Sunday afternoon.

They just had to wait a little bit.

After an erratic Velasquez spotted the Nationals an early 3-0 lead, Washington promptly entered the inning from hell in the bottom of fourth.

Three different Nationals relievers combined to throw 47 pitches to 12 Phillies batters. The results included:

  • four walks
  • three singles
  • a dropped pop up (error)
  • a fielder’s choice that resulted in no out
  • a strikeout/wild pitch that scored a run

Odubel Herrera, who now sports a .780 OPS after a two-hit game, put an exclamation point on the offensive outburst with a two-run single the other way.

An inning later, a recently slumping Brad Miller broke the game open by swatting a two-run homer that traveled 426 feet into the second deck.

Well, Miller broke it open for a moment. That’s because reliever Brandon Kintzler had another rough outing. He retired just two of the six batters he faced, allowing three runners to score. Through 20 games, his ERA now sits at a robust 8.50 to go along with a hefty 1.94 WHIP.

He’s allowed a total of seven earned runs over his last three innings pitched (four appearances).

Milestones for McCutchen, Realmuto

Andrew McCutchen scored his 1,000th career run during the Phillies’ seven-run outburst in the fourth inning, but that wasn’t the only big milestone achieved on this day.

In the bottom of the sixth, J.T. Realmtuto broke the game open for good with his 100th career homer, a three-run shot that cleared the fence in right to put the Phils ahead by a 12-6 margin. He then took a curtain call and did so by making quite the fashion statement.

That’s fresh.

Realmuto also showed up to his postgame Zoom media session rocking what he says the team is calling the “home run hat.”

On Monday, the Phillies will enjoy an unusual third off day in a six-day stretch before opening a critical three-game set at Citizens Bank Park with the Atlanta Braves.

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