Just keep it there, guys.
Keep it there.
The Phillies had a feeling in the sixth inning Thursday afternoon at Nationals Park. Sure, they trailed the Nationals by six runs, but they had also scored seven or more runs in each of their previous six games. They were playing well, so they saw no reason they could not score seven runs again.
“We’re going to score at least seven,” left fielder Andrew McCutchen recalled saying during Philadelphia’s 7-6 comeback victory. “It’s going to happen.”
The comments got a few laughs and chuckles in the Phillies’ dugout.
Then they did it.
Philadelphia scored three runs in the sixth inning and four in the eighth to win its sixth consecutive game and remain two games behind the Braves in the National League East with 29 games to play. The Phils have scored seven or more runs in seven consecutive games for the first time since a seven-game streak from June 19-24, 1933. (The franchise record is an eight-game streak from Sept. 18-22, 1903.)
The comeback was the Phillies’ seventh this season against Washington when trailing by three or more runs. That set a modern-day record, according to STATS. Six teams previously had six comeback victories of at least three runs against an opponent: the 1912 Red Sox (vs.the A's), the 1922 Giants (vs. the Cardinals), the 1930 Pirates (vs. the Cubs), the 1939 A's (vs. the Browns), the 1950 Tigers (vs. the A's) and the 2018 Nationals (vs. the Phillies).
“We knew we had a chance,” McCutchen said. “We got that opportunity. We were able to come through in the situations we needed to. A couple mishaps, some tough plays on their end, we were able to get those runs and get seven. Right when we got seven, I was like, ‘Cool, let’s get a couple more.’ But yeah, it was something we talked about.”
McCutchen’s bases-loaded double to left-center field with one out in the sixth scored three runs. His single to center in the eighth scored another to pull the Phillies within two. Philadelphia reloaded the bases, setting up Nick Maton’s ground ball to second baseman Luis García. Maton hit the ball hard, but it should have been fielded and potentially turned into an inning-ending double play. Instead, it bounced off García’s glove and scooted into right field.
Two runs scored to tie the game.
Odúbel Herrera then hit another ball to García, who hesitated as he considered throwing home. It proved costly because after he threw to second, it was too late to turn another inning-ending double play.
Rafael Marchan scored to give the Phillies the lead.
“When things start to fall and we start scoring some runs and we start seeing it, someone talks about it, or brings up the seven-run thing that we’re on, the next thing you know, it’s a thing,” McCutchen said.
Right-hander Aaron Nola struggled, putting the Phillies in the 6-0 hole. He allowed six runs in four-plus innings.
Nola’s curveball failed him Thursday, which virtually never happens. He allowed a solo home run to Lane Thomas on a 3-2 curveball with two outs in the third. Two batters later, Juan Soto hit a two-run homer on an 0-1 curveball to give the Nationals a 3-0 lead.
It was the first time in Nola’s career that he allowed two home runs in a game on his curveball. He was unable to strike out a batter on his curveball for the third time this season.
“It wasn’t sharp,” Nola said. “It was popping out of my hand a little bit. I’m sure they could see it.”
Nola is 0-1 with a 5.06 ERA in seven starts since he earned his last win on July 25. He has pitched more than 5 1/3 innings only twice in that stretch. He is 7-13 with a 4.52 ERA in 28 starts in his career in September/October. He is 58-35 with a 3.46 ERA in 138 starts in every other month.
“I’m hearing that from all different angles about September,” Nola said. “I’m honestly kind of tired of it.”
He has five more starts this month to change the narrative. For the first time since he has been with the Phillies, they enter the month playing well.
He feels it.
“Gosh, if you don’t feel the momentum after what they just did out there, I don’t know what to tell you,” he said.
From a predicted comeback victory to an actual comeback victory. What does the rest of the season have in store for the Phillies?
“In the world that we want it to be, we’ll be in first place and be raising that banner and winning the division,” McCutchen said. “It’s an exciting month. This is what baseball’s all about. I’m looking forward to it.”