PHILADELPHIA -- Wilson Ramos waited more than two weeks to play his first game in a Phillies uniform. By the time he did, he said he'd never forget it.Providing just the jolt needed for their sputtering offense to snap out of its late-summer malaise, Ramos put his fingerprints all over
PHILADELPHIA -- Wilson Ramos waited more than two weeks to play his first game in a Phillies uniform. By the time he did, he said he'd never forget it.
Providing just the jolt needed for their sputtering offense to snap out of its late-summer malaise, Ramos put his fingerprints all over the Phillies' 7-4 win over the Red Sox on Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies' new catcher scored three times and drove in three runs courtesy of a career-high three extra-base hits in his team debut, which came 15 days after he was acquired at the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
"I wanted to show everybody what I can do," said Ramos, who was nursing a left hamstring strain when acquired from the Rays. "Today is a special day. I'll remember it."
• Ramos 'learned from the best' as a young catcher
Ramos doubled in a run in the fourth, tripled and scored the go-ahead tally in the sixth and doubled home two insurance runs in the seventh to help the Phillies avoid their sixth loss in eight games. He also threw a runner out stealing and guided a parade of seven relievers as they held baseball's most potent offense in check for 6 2/3 innings.
"He was simply heroic," manager Gabe Kapler said. "What a Phillies debut."
Feeling the urgency stemming from his team's recent slide down the standings, Kapler managed with little priority on the Phillies' upcoming doubleheader Thursday against the Mets. He emptied his bullpen and exhausted half of his bench by the fourth inning in an attempt to salvage a poor start from Vince Velasquez, whose 2 1/3-inning effort marked his second-shortest of the season. The heavy use will likely spark a flurry of roster moves prior to Thursday's twin bill, when the Phillies' already-taxed staff will need to record at least 54 outs. But on Wednesday, the gamble worked.
"We did make some aggressive decisions tonight, and we felt like it was a game we were setting out to win," Kapler said. "We have to play to win every single baseball game. We were confident if we stuck around we would swing the bats like we did."
Rather than hold his breath and see if Velasquez could wiggle out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the third, after he allowed a three-run double to Mitch Moreland, Kapler deployed recently-recalled former closer Hector Neris, who recorded two key outs to hold Boston's lead to three runs.
Ramos then led the Phillies' methodical charge back from there, doubling home their first run off Nathan Eovaldi in the fourth. Pinch-hitting for Philadelphia's third pitcher, Carlos Santana singled home Ramos with the tying run later in the frame.
Ramos smacked his first triple in more than seven years off Joe Kelly in the sixth, scoring the go-ahead run on a sac fly by Scott Kingery -- another pinch-hitter. Ramos' second double stretched the Phillies' lead to three runs in a three-run seventh.
"I heard a lot of fans cheering my name today," Ramos said. "That made me feel excited."
After Pat Neshek surrendered an unearned run in the eighth, Seranthony Dominguez was able to strand the tying run at first by wiggling out of a bases-loaded jam. His 1-2-3 ninth capped a herculean effort by the Phillies' relief corps, which leads the Majors with a 2.60 bullpen ERA over the last six weeks. In all, 21 players were part of the Phillies' 3-hour, 27-minute triumph, which kept them from drifting further into the fray of the National League's crowded playoff picture.
With the victory, the Phillies kept pace with the first-place Braves and the surging Cardinals, who remain just a game back for the NL's second Wild Card. It also marked Philadelphia's 66th win of the season -- matching its total from 2017 with 43 games to go.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Kapler insisted he would use Neris, who spent six weeks in the Minors after losing his closer role earlier this year, in "important situations" when the righty was recalled Tuesday. So the manager turned some heads when summoning Neris in the third -- far earlier than the righty is accustomed to pitching. But Neris' first appearance since June 29 did come at a critical time. He held the line by retiring Jackie Bradley Jr. and Rafael Devers, setting the stage for the Phillies' comeback.
"The save can come at any time of the game, and it's kind of ironic that Hector Neris saved this game for us," Kapler said. "This is a guy who went down to Triple-A for us, had a pride-swallowing moment, worked his tail off to get his stuff back, came up and executed beautifully for us. We definitely don't win that game without the contributions from Hector Neris."
Kapler described his new catcher's skillset endearingly before the game, saying "he's not exactly a burner" on the basepaths. That Ramos recently battled a hamstring injury probably made his sixth-inning triple off Kelly even more unlikely. But Ramos chugged around the bases after sending a 98.5 mph fastball to the wall in right-center, sliding safely to record just the second three-bagger of his career. Ramos' lone prior triple came on May 20, 2011, against the Orioles.
Ramos also became the first player to collect three extra-base hits in his Phillies debut since Ed Freed on Sept. 11, 1942, vs. the Reds, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Before he supplied a chunk of the Phillies' offense, Ramos showed his new team what he can contribute defensively as well. Ramos wasted no time making an early impression, unleashing a strong throw from his knees to catch Brock Holt attempting to steal second in the first. Ramos also made a throwing error later in the game, but the athleticism he showed on that initial play made a significant first impression.
"I think it's my first throw from my knees to second base in my career," Ramos said. "That's why I say it was a special day."
HE SAID IT
"That one was a lot of fun. Any time the action starts early and you're making decisions early in the game, and you're thinking about tomorrow's game, the doubleheader and the game after that, all at once, it's really stimulating. It's invigorating, and that's how I think we all felt in the dugout tonight." -- Kapler
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
A successful Phillies challenge overturned a critical play in the sixth, when the Red Sox appeared to inch ahead following what was originally ruled a pinch-hit RBI single for Steve Pearce.
With two out and the score knotted at 3, Kapler summoned right-hander Tommy Hunter in place of lefty Adam Morgan to face Pearce, who crushes left-handed pitching. Pearce then poked a soft one-hopper to the right side. Cesar Hernandez ranged to glove it and threw off balance to first, where Justin Bour used every inch of his 6-foot-3 frame, lunging in an attempt to corral the throw. But first-base umpire Ben May ruled Bour's foot came off the bag, which allowed Devers to scoot home with the go-ahead run.
Umpires converged and the call was overturned after a 1-minute, 44-second review, ruling Bour kept his foot on the base. That ended the inning and kept the score tied.
"We know we have to challenge that play if it's even close," Kapler said. "Tremendous play by Bour."
The Phillies plan to make at least two roster moves to set up their pitching for Thursday's single-admission doubleheader against the Mets at Citizens Bank Park. Left-hander Ranger Suarez (1-0, 7.20 ERA) will be summoned from Triple-A to start Game 1 against Corey Oswalt (1-2, 5.03), while right-hander Zach Eflin (8-4, 3.57) will be recalled as the 26th man to start Game 2 opposite Steven Matz (5-9, 4.35). The assignment will mark the second career start for Suarez, the club's No. 8 prospect per MLB Pipeline. Game 1 is set to begin at 4:05 p.m. ET -- and can be seen exclusively on Facebook -- with Game 2 to follow shortly after.
Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.