WASHINGTON — As soon as the third base umpire pointed the runner, that’s when Dusty Wathan knew. So the veteran Phillies third baseman coach shouted instructions he had never given before.
“You’re going to be knocked out,” Wathan said, whipping around his arm as Rhys Hoskins finished third in round 10 on Friday night, “but don’t slow down. Don’t slow down!”
Hoskins didn’t slow down. And he would have been out – about 30 feet, no less. But umpires ruled Washington Nationals shortstop Luis García made contact with Hoskins after he tried to field JT Realmuto’s single in the middle. The obstruction was called, and because Hoskins attempted to score, the run counted.
Oh, that counted well. It even turned out to be decisive. Hoskins’ run gave the Phillies a two-run lead en route to a wild 8-7 win in 10 innings. Combined with a previous 5-3 win, he earned a grueling day-night doubleheader sweep in the nation’s capital.
“I mean, really, props for [Wathan] to find out exactly what the rule is, on the fly,” Hoskins said. “It ended up being the deciding race.”
Of course he did. If you’ve lost track, that’s 14 wins in 16 games for interim manager Rob Thomson’s Phillies. Even when they make glaring errors, like when shortstop Didi Gregorius throws what would have been the final in the ninth inning, they overcome them.
The Phillies went through 22 players, including 10 pitchers. They lost the designated hitter in the last drink, forcing reliever José Alvarado to bat for the first time in his career in the 10th inning. Thomson blew his top three relievers late in the first game and had to rely on his questionable depth in the bullpen in the second.
None of that mattered. The Phillies swept a doubleheader for the first time since Sept. 18, 2020, and it was seven-inning games. They notched a fifth straight winning streak for the first time since 2011.
“Wild,” said outfielder Matt Vierling, who homered twice in Game 2, including a ninth-inning solo shot that gave the Phillies a 6-5 lead. “I feel like going through adversity is a good thing and overcoming some difficulties or mistakes. We came out on top, and that says a lot about our character.
The wild and crazy second game has spun so many times over the past three innings that it’s impossible to know where to start. Let’s start in the eighth inning, with the Phillies trailing 5-3.
Had Realmuto not been deemed safe in a replay that nullified a late-inning double play, the Phillies might have lost. If plate umpire Clinton Vondrak hadn’t missed a four-ball call on Bryce Harper, a batter later, Harper didn’t hit a game-tying two-run double.
After the Vierling homer in the ninth, Gregorius had the last out in hand. But he threw wide of first base, allowing the Nationals to score the tying run.
Then came Wathan’s heads-up in the 10th.
Nationals manager Dave Martinez disputed the call and was ejected, claiming it was Hoskins who actually interfered with García. Team manager Dan Iassogna explained that the referees must judge if the runner would have scored without the contact.
“It’s just a very tough, tight game,” Iassogna said. “We felt that [Hoskins] would not have been expelled if the obstruction had not taken place.
Says Wathan: “We go over the rules for spring training, and we talk about them all the time for situations like this where it works. There are little rules here and there that can benefit you, and this is one of them tonight.
Does Wathan ever remember telling a runner to keep going when he knew he was going to be out?
“No, it’s a first,” he said. “But he is safe now. It worked well for us. »
When Harper came on as batter in the seventh inning of the nightcap, the Nationals had every intention of taking him for a walk.
But Vondrak would not allow it.
Never mind that Kyle Finnegan threw a high splitter for a fourth straight ball. Vondrak called it a strike. Harper dropped her bat and looked at the umpire from home plate. And then, he lined up the next pitch on the center-right field for a game-tying two-run double.
“I wasn’t very happy,” Harper said, still irritated by the call. “Try to turn the page as quickly as possible. It worked, right? It worked.
The tenor of Game 2 was set in the seventh inning of Game 1.
The National relievers ran bases loaded on 12 pitches — the opposite of a clean inning — but the Phillies were left empty when Odúbel Herrera, Alec Bohm and Bryson Stott struck out.
Thomson was forced to use his top three high-leveraged relievers — Connor Brogdon, Seranthony Dominguez and Brad Hand — for the final 10 outs, leaving them unavailable for the nightcap.
After Bailey Falter, starting from the spot, went five innings, Thomson had to piece together the rest of the game by tapping into the shallow depth of the Phillies’ reliever bullpen. Nick Nelson, demoted Corey Knebel, Jeurys Familia, Andrew Bellatti and Alvarado somehow got the last 15 outs.
“The guys we used in the first game, we weren’t going to use in the second,” Thomson said. “I am totally against it. If there was a World Series doubleheader, I would use them.
Nick Castellanos gave the Phillies a 2-0 Game 1 lead with a first-inning brace. He doubled on a fly ball again in the third which Juan Soto appeared to lose in the sun.
It was noted, however, that both doubles went to right field. When Castellanos uses the whole court, especially when hitting the ball the other way, it’s a sign for Thomson that he can get hot.
“I just want to be someone who consistently hits hard in baseball. Wherever it ends, it ends,” said Castellanos, 15-for-43 (.349) in his last 12 games after going 1-for-5 in the nightcap. “I’ve been behind baseball more this series.”
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