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Williams' pinch-hit 3-run HR lifts Nola, Phillies

Outfielder acclimating to bench role: 'I feel it's helping me be a complete hitter'
May 13, 2018

PHILADELPHIA -- Patience is not something that comes easy to a player who has spent most of his baseball life not sitting on a bench.Still, Nick Williams is trying to take it in a positive light at this point -- even as his starts get further and further apart due

PHILADELPHIA -- Patience is not something that comes easy to a player who has spent most of his baseball life not sitting on a bench.
Still, Nick Williams is trying to take it in a positive light at this point -- even as his starts get further and further apart due to the Phillies' logjam of quality outfielders.
"I think this has matured me a lot," Williams said. "It's a situation I've never been in. I think it's helped me in general grow as a player and a person. I think I am learning the game a lot better. The chances I do get -- I feel it's helping me be a complete hitter. I've been taking some tough pitches working the counts. It's been helping me as a player."
And on an afternoon when the rest of the Phillies' batters were in a rut, Williams was able to pull them out of it with a pinch-hit three-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, lifting Philadelphia to a 4-2 win over the Mets in the finale of a rain-shortened series Sunday at Citizens Bank Park.

Williams -- who has made just three starts in May -- took a hanging 2-1 slider from Mets reliever Paul Sewald and smashed it deep into the bleachers in right-center. It was Williams' second homer of the season; both of them have been pinch-hit jobs.
"I just wanted to get something I could hit hard," Williams said. "I knew I was going to have to be patient with runners on first and second and two outs. I had a history with Sewald last year, and I know he got me out quite a bit. I knew I had to be patient right there."
"It's a reminder that you don't have to start a baseball game to win a baseball game for your team," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. "[Williams] did that today, and I'm really proud of him."

The homer allowed Aaron Nola to pick up his sixth win of the season. Nola wasn't at his sharpest, but he battled for six innings while allowing nine hits and two walks while striking out four. The only blemish on Nola's outing was a solo homer by Mets slugger Yoenis Cespedes to lead off the sixth inning, giving the Mets a 1-0 lead.
"I'm just trying to do my part and go out and try to help the team win the best I can," Nola said. "That's all I can do. It's not really about me, it's about winning as a whole, as a team."

Edubray Ramos -- not closer Hector Neris -- came in to get the final three outs and record the save, surrendering only a two-out walk to Brandon Nimmo. Kapler said afterwards that it was the matchups in the ninth inning that dictated the change and that this wasn't an indication that the struggling Neris -- who has blown two saves in the past week -- had lost his closer position.
"We said from Spring Training and the beginning of the season that we would use the most appropriate reliever in a situation," Kapler said. "Sometimes, that's going to be Hector. Sometimes, that's going to be others late in the game."

SOUND SMART
Phillies starting pitchers have posted a 1.99 ERA with 67 strikeouts in 11 games this month, holding opponents to a .209 batting average. In nine of those 11 outings, they have allowed one run or fewer during their starts.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Everyone has known that Jorge Alfaro has a heck of an arm. But there's statistical proof now to show that it's dangerous to run on the young Phillies catcher. Alfaro's throw to get Amed Rosario stealing second in the top of the fifth inning was clocked by Statcast™ at 91.3 mph. That is the hardest throw for a caught-stealing since Statcast™ began tracking back in 2015.

HE SAID IT
"We're playing good the first month and a half. We worry about the day to day. It's a lot of competition. It's a long season. But we're worrying about day to day and the competition. We have great teammates. We play well together and worry about winning." -- Carlos Santana, on the Phillies' hot start

UP NEXT
The Phillies will take Monday off before heading down I-95 to Camden Yards for a brief two-game Interleague set against the Orioles on Tuesday night. That mini series will start a six-game road trip that will also send Philadelphia to St. Louis for four games next weekend. Nick Pivetta, who hasn't faced the Orioles in his two-year career, will start opposite Baltimore veteran Andrew Cashner on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. ET.

Kevin Cooney is a contributor to MLB.com based in Philadelphia.