Jul 1, 2023

Kicking The Door Open To July

Saturday, July 1, 2023
Results: Phillies defeated Nationals, 19-4

For quite a few years, we've gone to a ballgame every year for my birthday.  If the Phillies are in town, we go to a Philadelphia.  If not, we head to Reading or Allentown to see the next generation of Phillies superstars.  I've never sat down and figured out the win/loss record of the Phillies and their farm clubs since I've been spending my birthday at the ballpark, but I'm pretty confident that I've never gotten a birthday present quite like this before.

This wasn't just a win... it was a 19 run massacre of the Washington Nationals.  Nineteen runs!  Just to put this in perspective, the Phillies scored 16 runs in their three game sweep of the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in the previous series.  Every player in the Phillies starting lineup had at least one hit and one RBI... but I'm getting ahead of myself.

We got stuck in traffic on the way to the ballpark and were in a bit of a hurry to get to our seats before the start of the game, so I just picked up dinner at the vegan concession stand that Angie got her dinner from.  I had the Gyro Pita which was pretty tasty, but a little too messy to fully enjoy at a crowded ballpark in 85 degree heat.

Phillies ace Zack Wheeler went up against the Nationals left hander MacKenzie GoreGore was at one time one of the most highly regarded pitching prospects in the game.  He was one of the key players that the Nationals received last August in the trade that sent Juan Soto to the San Diego Padres.

The other two players in the Nationals lineup that I'm somewhat familiar with was first baseman Dominic Smith, who I know best for his time with the Mets, and Corey Dickerson, who the Phillies acquired at the 2019 trade deadline and who was excellent at the plate and in left field for the Phillies until he suffered an injury in the middle of September brought a premature end to his season.

The Nationals jumped out to an early lead in the top of the 2nd after a solo home run from Dominic Smith, but they didn't have long to celebrate as Alec Bohm tied the game at 1-1 with an RBI single on the bottom half of the inning.  It was just the start of an incredible night for Bohmmer who went 4-5 with two home runs and six RBI on the night.

The Phillies cracked the game wide open in the bottom of the third.  It started when MacKenzie Gore gave up back to back walks to Kyle Schwarber and Trea Turner to start the inning.  Nick Castellanos singled, which brought Bryce Harper to the plate with bases loaded and no outs.  The ballpark was buzzing, but the grand slam we were all hoping for didn't happen (that came later in the night).  Harper grounded into a forceout at second base which scored the runner from third to give the Phillies a 2-1 lead.  JT Realmuto hit an RBI single to extend the lead to 3-1, followed by a sacrifice fly from Josh Harrison that gave the Phillies a 4-1 lead.  This brought Alec Bohm to the plate who hit the first of his two home runs to put the Phillies up 6-1... but they weren't finished.  Edmundo Sosa walked and Cristian Pache hit an RBI double to left field for their seventh run, which finally knocked MacKenzie Gore out of the game.  He gave up seven runs (all earned) on a homer, six hits and three walks in just 2 ⅔ innings of work.  Ouch!  Amos Willingham was brought in to stop the bleeding.  The right hander just made his MLB debut on June 28th and this was his second appearance in a big league game, but he managed to get Kyle Schwarber (the man who walked to lead off the inning) to fly out on a hard hit ball to deep center field to end the inning.

Washington brought Amos Willingham back for the bottom of the fourth, and I'm sure the experience didn't do any favors for the rookie's self-esteem.  Trea Turner doubled to lead off the inning and Nick Castellanos smacked his 11th home run of the season to tack two more runs onto the Phillies lead.  He managed to retire Harper and Realmuto, but Josh Harrison smacked a double with two outs, and Alec Bohm hit his second home run of the night to give the Phillies an 11-1 lead.

The Nationals managed to get to Zack Wheeler in the top of the fifth.  Ildemaro Vargas hit a single with one out.  This was followed by a triple off the bat of CJ Abrams, who was another top prospect the Nationals acquired in the Juan Soto trade.  With two outs, Lane Thomas hit an RBI single and Luis GarcĂ­a hit an RBI double that brought the score to 11-4.  Wheeler got out of the inning without giving up another run, and the Nationals didn't score again for the rest of the game.

Joe La Sorsa came in to pitch for the Nationals in the bottom of the fifth.  The Nationals just picked him up off of waivers from the Tampa Bay Rays on June 8th, and the Phillies welcomed him to Philadelphia in his third game as a member of the Nationals by tagging him for four runs.  Kyle Schwarber and Trea Turner started off the inning with back to back singles.  This was followed by a Nick Castellanos RBI double, a Bryce Harper RBI single, and a Realmuto groundout that scored the runner from third to erase all of the Nationals gains in the top half of the inning.

The Nationals Rule 5 pickup Thaddeus Ward came in to relieve Joe La Sorsa, and his fate proved to be exactly the same as his predecessor.  He started off by walking Josh HarrisonAlec Bohm hit an RBI single that put runners on first and second with one out.  Edmundo Sosa lined out for the second out of the inning, and Cristian Pache drew a walk to load the bases for Kyle Schwarber.  It was the second time in the game that Schwarber led off an inning, only to find his spot in the lineup come up a second time with two outs before the inning was over.  When this happened in the second inning, Schwarber hit a deep fly ball to center field for the third out of the inning.  Things worked out a little differently this time...

Schwarber smacked a grand slam for his 22nd home run of the season to put the Phillies up 19-4.  This would be the final score of the game, but Schwarber just missed his 23rd home run by an eyelash in the bottom of the eighth when the Nationals brought in their left fielder, Ildemaro Vargas, to pitch.

The Phillies made a few changes in the top of the sixth.  Kody Clemens was brought in to replace Trea Turner and play first base (with Bohm shifting to 3B and Sosa moving to SS), and Brandon Marsh was brought in to replace Nick Castellanos and play center field (with Pache moving to RF).  Andrew Vasquez came in to pitch the next two innings and was impressive, giving up just one hit.

If there was a bright spot for the Nationals in this ballgame, it came in the bottom of the sixth inning.  Jose Ferrer was brought in for his Major League debut.  The 23 year old left hander was impressive in his first appearance in the big leagues, recording a 1-2-3 inning in which he struck out Brandon Marsh and JT Realmuto and got Bryce Harper to ground out.  Harper was originally called safe, but the call was overturned in a replay.  It wasn't at all a controversial move.  Harper knew he was out and began walking back to the dugout before the umpires finished their review.  I don't know much about this guy, but he came into a game against a team that just scored 19 runs and shut down three of the hottest bats in the National League.  Gotta tip your hat to a showing like that.

Garrett Stubbs came in to catch Andrew Vasquez in the top of the the seventh, and Dylan Covey came in to pitch the final two innings for the PhilliesCovey hasn't gotten off to a great start since the Phillies claimed him off of waivers from the Dodgers, but he pitched two scoreless innings tonight to close out the game for the Phillies 44th win of the season.

Damn!  You can't ask for a better birthday game than that... or can you?

DJ Diesel performed a post-game concert on the field after the game, and yes, you read the fine print right.  Diesel is Shaquille O'Neal.  Yes... THAT Shaquille O'NealShaq has just about done it all throughout his life.  In addition to being one of the most dominant players in the history of the NBA, this dude has starred in movies, recorded albums, worked in law enforcement, joined the board of directors at Papa John's, appeared on too many commercials and television shows to mention, including nearly every major televised pro wrestling promotion that has existed over the past 30 years.  Hell, the dude even has his own video games, and I'm not talking about the basketball ones.  Any one of his side hustles would be the highlight of most people's lives, including spinning records for a crowd of cheering fans in shallow center field at Citizens Bank Park after a ballgame.

This has definitely been a birthday to remember!