Nats' attitude after wild win: 'No lead is safe'

June 24th, 2021

PHILADELPHIA -- The Nationals rallied from deficits of five runs and four runs in the fifth and sixth innings on Wednesday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park, but it still took a third comeback -- this one in the ninth inning -- to claim an improbable 13-12 victory over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

Washington's latest victory was as wild as it was unlikely, featuring everything from Josh Bell's breakout moment as a National to some ninth-inning prophecy to the final out being recorded by a player who busted open his lip one play earlier. Through it all, the Nats found a way to win for the ninth time in 10 games, despite the fact that their win probability dipped below 10% on three occasions.

Here's a closer look at how it all unfolded, as well as Washington's win probability through all of the twists and turns.

Bottom of the fourth
Vince Velasquez RBI single
Phillies 5, Nationals 0
4.8 percent win probability

Though Nationals starter Erick Fedde ran his scoreless streak to 21 innings with a spotless first, it came to an abrupt halt when he served up a three-run homer to Travis Jankowski in the second. The Phils tacked on another run in the third on a solo homer by Bryce Harper before Fedde allowed an RBI single to opposing starter Vince Velasquez -- who had already spun four scoreless frames -- to put Washington in a 5-0 hole.

Top of the fifth
Kyle Schwarber three-run homer
Nationals 5, Phillies 5
47.0 percent win probability

After registering only one baserunner through four innings, each of the Nats' first four batters reached base in the fifth, including an RBI double by Starlin Castro and an RBI single by Victor Robles. Washington eventually chased Velasquez with two on and one out, and Schwarber welcomed reliever Archie Bradley to the game with a three-run homer -- his ninth in the last 10 games.

"He's well on his way to doing some really special things with this uniform on, so hopefully it continues," Bell said of Schwarber's recent tear. "It's been a lot of fun to watch, for sure."

Bottom of the fifth
Andrew McCutchen grand slam
Phillies 9, Nationals 5
7.2 percent win probability

The Phillies immediately answered after the Nationals' five-run fifth when Andrew McCutchen hit a two-out, pinch-hit grand slam in the bottom half of the inning. That plummeted the Nats' win probability back into single digits -- but they weren't ready to pack it in just yet.

"We had that mentality where no lead is safe for the opposition," Bell said.

Top of the sixth
Josh Bell grand slam
Nationals 11, Phillies 9
76.0 percent win probability

It took less than an inning for the Nationals to prove exactly that. Trea Turner halved the deficit with a two-run single before Bell delivered a go-ahead grand slam of his own in what manager Dave Martinez called “an emotional moment.”

"To me, that was the moment right there where I told myself, ‘That made him a National right there,’" Martinez said. "That hit made him a National. Hopefully, he keeps it going now."

Bell has been open about the extra work he's been getting in with hitting coach Kevin Long, and it appears to be paying dividends. After hitting .176 with a .605 OPS through his first 30 games, Bell is batting .292 with an .879 OPS and five homers in his last 28 contests.

"I've put a lot of work in with K-Long; it seems like things are starting to turn around for me," Bell said. "Hopefully that's one of quite a few moments I have with the Nationals."

Bell's grand slam also made history. According to Elias Sports Bureau, Wednesday's game between the Nationals and Phillies marked the first game in MLB history where both teams hit a three-run homer and a grand slam.

Bottom of the eighth
Ronald Torreyes RBI single
Phillies 12, Nationals 11
7.9 percent win probability

Though Bell's blast staked the Nats to their first lead of the game, the Phillies rallied to reclaim the edge in the eighth. With closer Brad Hand unavailable after throwing 34 pitches in Tuesday's win, Martinez called on Austin Voth to start the eighth. He put runners on the corners with only one out before turning things over to Tanner Rainey, who allowed a pair of RBI singles to send Washington's win probability back to the spot it was in prior to the sixth-inning rally.

Top of the ninth
Starlin Castro two-run single
Nationals 13, Phillies 12
84.3 percent win probability

Undeterred, Bell and Josh Harrison led off the ninth with back-to-back hits. After moving up on Alex Avila's sacrifice bunt, the pair raced across the plate on Starlin Castro's two-run single -- his third hit of the day -- to put the Nats in the lead for good.

"I was in the on-deck circle before the at-bat, and [Josh Harrison] walked up and I said, 'Let's go, you and me, right here baby,' and he said, 'You already know it,'" Bell said. "Next thing you know, we're both celebrating at home plate a few minutes later. It was definitely cool to kind of speak it into existence and get the 'W' at the end of the day."

Bottom of the ninth
Paolo Espino retires Brad Miller
Nationals 13, Phillies 12
100 percent win probability

Still, the win did not come easy. After retiring Rhys Hoskins and Harper on his first two pitches, Paolo Espino looked poised for a 1-2-3 inning, only to have J.T. Realmuto's hard grounder skip up and hit Jordy Mercer in the face. Though his lip was bleeding, Mercer stayed in the game with catcher Yan Gomes as the only position player left on Washington's bench.

Mercer then sealed the win when he snagged a liner off the bat of Brad Miller.

"I knew it hit him pretty good, and then when he kneeled down, I could see he was spitting blood," said Espino, who earned his first career save after notching his first win in his last appearance. "I was like, 'Oh man, it got him pretty good.' Then in my head, I was like, 'You know what, let's see if we can give another one to him so he can finish it.' And he ended up getting it."

So how do you sum it all up?

"One word: Boom," Martinez said with a laugh. "There's no way to sum it up. Kept battling back. Down five, battled back. They came back, we battled back, they took the lead -- and at the end of the day, we were 1-0."