PHILADELPHIA -- Something special is happening here.
Rhys Hoskins is having the postseason of his dreams. Bryce Harper is putting together one of the best playoff runs in Phillies history. Kyle Schwarber is crushing tape-measure home runs from coast to coast. The Phils are winning in October, even when nothing is going as planned. Somehow, someway, everything came together Saturday night in a wild 10-6 victory over the Padres in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series at Citizens Bank Park.
One more victory and the Phillies are going to the World Series.
“You can’t write it better for the guys in that room, for the staff, for everybody in this organization,” Hoskins said. “But I think, most importantly, for the city. Yeah, you can’t write it better. I can't imagine what tomorrow is going to be like.”
It could be even crazier than Saturday night with Zack Wheeler on the mound in Game 5. Imagine that.
The Phillies have had so many good things happen this postseason. It started when they scored six runs in the ninth inning to beat the Cardinals in an epic comeback in Game 1 of the NL Wild Card Series. They swept that series, then throttled the Braves in the NL Division Series, which included an epic bat spike, a historic inside-the-park home run, brilliant pitching performances and more. The Phillies beat the Padres in Game 1 of the NLCS, which everybody will remember for Schwarber’s moonshot. They won Game 3 behind another leadoff homer from Schwarber and a six-out save from Seranthony Domínguez.
But what happened in Game 4 of the NLCS ranks toward the top. The Phillies overcame a deficit of four or more runs in a postseason game for just the third time in franchise history.
“I’ve had so much good fortune, I make sure that I don’t get hit by a bus when I cross the street,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “This is a big-time game. They came through.”
Thomson chose left-hander Bailey Falter to start Game 4. Falter hadn’t pitched since Oct. 5 and had thrown only one inning since Sept. 30.
Thomson hoped for nine outs from Falter, but he got only two. Falter was out after facing six batters as the Padres grabbed a 4-0 lead.
Only two times in baseball history (Yankees over Indians in Game 1 of 1997 American League Division Series, Pirates over Senators in Game 7 of 1925 World Series) had a team come back after allowing four-plus runs in the top of the first inning in a postseason game.
“Twenty-seven outs!” Thomson and players said in the dugout.
“Getting punched in the mouth in the first inning is just a little bit of a reminder,” Nick Castellanos said. “Like, you know what? We’re in a fight. Let’s go.
“The game is going to present itself, and the game presented itself in the first inning really quickly to us. And that was a challenge that we were going to have to respond to real quick. It’s just kind of the character of the team. We got a taste of that in our first game of the postseason. It was probably the perfect game that we had because we were down all the way until the ninth inning and we were able to come back and get a win. I think that taught us quick that there was so much baseball left to be played.”
Schwarber started the bottom of the first inning with a single. Hoskins followed with a homer to cut the Padres’ lead to 4-2.
“We’re here,” Alec Bohm said. “Two batters, two runs? That really calms things down.”
J.T. Realmuto walked and Harper doubled to score Realmuto and make it 4-3. Just like that, Padres right-hander Mike Clevinger was out of the game. It was only the second time in postseason history that both starters failed to make it out of the first inning. It last happened in Game 4 of the 1932 World Series with the Yankees' Johnny Allen and the Cubs' Guy Bush.
The Phillies’ bullpen came up big. Connor Brogdon replaced Falter with two outs in the first inning, and he tied a career high with 2 1/3 innings in relief and did not allow a run. Andrew Bellatti then pitched a scoreless fourth.
The Phillies tied the game at 4-4 in the bottom of the fourth, but Juan Soto hit a two-run homer against Brad Hand in the top of the fifth to make it 6-4. Schwarber worked a one-out walk in the bottom of the fifth, and Hoskins smashed another homer to even it up again at 6-6. Realmuto walked again, and Harper doubled again to score Realmuto and give the Phils the lead. Castellanos hit a ball up the middle that hit second base. It took a wicked hop and went into the outfield.
“Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good,” Castellanos said.
Harper scored to make it 8-6.
The Phillies never looked back as Noah Syndergaard, David Robertson and Zach Eflin pitched a combined four scoreless innings of relief. Schwarber hit a homer off the batter’s eye in the sixth to make it 9-6. Realmuto homered to left in the seventh as the Phils tied a franchise record with four homers in a postseason game.
Sunday could be fun. The Phillies will have Wheeler on the mound, with sluggers Schwarber, Hoskins and Harper swinging hot bats at the same time.
It seems too good to be true.
“The job’s not done,” Harper said. “We have a lot ahead of us.”