No stopping MLB's best team: Phils rally 3 times in walk-off win

May 19th, 2024

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies showed once again on Saturday night why they are off to one of the best starts in franchise history.

They rallied from three deficits -- including trailing by one run down to their final out -- on their way to a 4-3 walk-off win over the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. delivered the game-tying homer in the ninth, and sealed Philadelphia’s third walk-off win of the season in the 10th.

With the Phillies trailing by one with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Clemens sent the crowd into a frenzy with a game-tying home run. It was just the third game-tying homer by a Phillie with the team down to its final out in the past 10 seasons. The others both came last year: Trea Turner on May 24 vs. the D-backs and Harper on Sept. 11 vs. the Braves.

Though Clemens’ shot traveled a Statcast-projected 413 feet, he hit it to one of the deepest parts of the ballpark -- leaving some doubt as to whether it would clear the wall.

"Honestly, no," Clemens said when asked if he thought it was a homer off the bat. "I thought it was too low."

So when he saw the ball land in the seats just to the right of the Phillies’ bullpen?

"It was great; that feeling is second to none,” Clemens said. “You kind of black out there, but I'm just super thankful it did go out."

Clemens' clutch homer capped a 2-for-2 night off the bench that raised his season average to .304 with a 1.159 OPS in 24 plate appearances.

"Fantastic," manager Rob Thomson said of Clemens’ performance in his limited opportunities. "Almost every at-bat has been a good at-bat. He's barreled up a lot of balls. … He's really swinging the bat well."

That bat that he’s been swinging so well just so happens to be one of Harper’s bats. Clemens has used the same model bat as Harper for the past couple of seasons, but his last couple of home runs have been with one of Harper’s actual bats.

"He has big league at-bats more and more every day," said Harper, who walked it off with a sacrifice fly in the 10th. "He goes in there, he's never overmatched, not trying to do too much."

The dramatic comeback was only possible thanks to Cristopher Sánchez holding the Nationals in check while the Phillies’ bats were held silent for much of the night.

Sánchez repeatedly worked his way out of trouble in the early innings, ultimately limiting the damage to just two runs over seven innings despite allowing eight hits. That’s something the 27-year-old left-hander has tried to pick up from veteran teammates such as Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola.

"Great pitchers do that, and I try to mirror that from Wheels and Nola," Sánchez said via an interpreter. "Even if you get hit around sometimes, that doesn't stop you. So I'm trying to see that in myself as well."

Philadelphia’s starters have limited damage just about as well as any team in the Majors. Entering Saturday, their starting rotation had held opponents to a .203 average with runners in scoring position, a mark that trailed only the Yankees (.170) and Dodgers (.199).

Among the 30 pitchers to face more than 50 hitters with RISP, Wheeler's .174 opponents' batting average ranks fourth. Sánchez checks in eighth with a .200 mark after holding the Nats to 1-for-7 in those spots on Saturday.

"Our starters are finding a way to kill the chaos," Thomson said. "You know, just get out of innings."

That’s one of the many reasons the Phillies (33-14) have matched their best 47-game start in franchise history (also in 1993 and ‘76).

They also extended their National League East lead to four games over the Braves. It’s their largest division lead at any point since 2019 -- and the latest into the season they’ve held a four-game lead since ‘11.

"It's amazing," Clemens said. “We feel like we all show up and we're expected to win the game even before it starts. It's an awesome atmosphere to be around."

Even on a night when the Phillies’ first hit didn’t come until the fourth inning and the club faced three separate deficits?

"It really does feel that way," Clemens said. "It feels like even if we get punched in the mouth, we're going to stand right back up and try to keep going."

Safe to assume Harper will keep sharing his bats?

"Yeah," Harper said. "I’ll give him whatever he wants."