It wasn’t a pitcher’s duel on Thursday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park in the conclusion of a truncated series between the Phillies and Atlanta Braves but a staff duel. Through the first nine innings, the team’s pitchers allowed a combined 13 baserunners and no runs. However, the 10th inning did the Phillies in. They lost 5-1 and thus were swept by the defending National League East champions in a series that was shortened by one game because of Wednesday night’s rainout.
In the 10th, with one out and Yunior Marte on the mound, Michael Harris II – through a drawn-in infield – knocked in Sam Hilliard, who had started the inning at second base. Next, Harris stole second, and Ronald Acuna Jr. singled. He would later steal second as well. Ozzie Albies was retired on strikes, then Austin Riley hit a line drive to left that Kyle Schwarber misplayed. The ball hit his glove but was generously scored a single. Regardless of how the play was called, it resulted in a 3-0 lead for the Braves. Marcell Ozuna then belted a ball into the seats in left. Bryson Stott drove in J.T. Realmuto in the bottom of the 10th, but it was too late.
Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Nola, who was roughed up for five runs in six innings by the Braves in his only other start against them this year, was excellent. He went six innings, gave up two hits and two walks while striking out five. He continued the string of good work by the rotation, including this game. Over the last 17 starts, the Phils starters have given up 18 runs in 100 innings of work. They have a 1.62 ERA over that span, and the team is 13-4 in those contests.
His counterpart for the Braves, Bryce Elder, went seven innings, surrendered three hits, walked two and hit a batter to go with six punchouts. The two pitchers that followed him, A.J. Minter and Raisel Iglesias, didn’t allow a baserunner and struck out four of the six batters they faced. The 10th inning did the Phillies in against the Braves, 5-1.
The closest either team came to scoring in regulation was in the Braves’ eight, Harris got a lead-off double off of Jose Alvarado, and he moved to third on a flyout, but two sensational plays by Trea Turner prevented him from going the final 90 feet.
“It’s a play I should make,” said Schwarber of the ball hit to him in the 10th, “plain and simple. I don’t know how or why. Gotta catch it. The game’s on me.”
“Our guys really pitched well,” said manager Rob Thomson. “Marte did exactly what he was supposed to do. The ball that Schwarber misplayed – that should end the inning.”
“When guys foul pitches off, especially with two strikes, they make you work,” said Nola, who left after throwing 103 pitches. “I’ve faced these guys quite a bit, and I feel like they’ve done that a good bit on me. You have to keep pounding the zone, making good pitches, and not give up on any of the guys.”
Rock Hoffman has been covering sports in the Philadelphia region for over 30 years. He’s been the co-host of a radio show – SportsPage – on the Delaware Valley Radio Network (WRDV.org) in the time. He’s reported on games involving all the Philadelphia teams at the profession and collegiate levels. During his career he’s provided coverage for a Super Bowl, an All-Star Game, NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament games as well NFL, MLB and NHL playoff games. Additionally, he’s the College Football Editor for Football Stories Magazine (FootballStories.com).