Pache plays hero in walk-off victory after Nola dazzles

April 16th, 2024

PHILADELPHIA -- hopped up and down, waiting for his teammates to meet him between first and second base.

Brandon Marsh got there first, then J.T. Realmuto. A mob of Phillies teammates pushed Pache into right field, where they celebrated Monday night’s 2-1 walk-off victory over the Rockies in 10 innings at Citizens Bank Park. Pache, who entered the game as a pinch-runner in the eighth, slashed a two-out single to right to score Bryson Stott from third base.

It was the first walk-off hit of Pache’s career.

“You see them coming, and you know they want to celebrate in all kinds of ways,” Pache said through the Phillies' interpreter. “It was extremely exciting for me to have been there.”

Monday was a typical Phillies' win, except for the home-plate collision that involved two pitchers in the ninth.

The Phillies pitched well again, moving them to 9-8 overall and 4-1 in one-run games. The offense, meanwhile, is struggling to get on track. The Phils have just 30 extra-base hits through 17 games -- they haven’t had 30 or fewer extra-base hits in their first 17 games since they had 30 in 1961.

Five days after Phillies right-hander slogged through a hard rain in St. Louis, he pitched in idyllic conditions on Monday night. It was 77 degrees at first pitch. In 7 1/3 innings against the Rockies, Nola allowed four hits, one run, one walk and struck out nine. He got 12 swings and misses and seven strikeouts on his curveball, which was one short of his career high.

Nola’s four-seam fastball averaged 92.1 mph, up 1.4 mph from his first three starts and 2.6 mph from last week in St. Louis.

“Before I went out, I saw the tarp on TV,” Nola said about a fast-moving pregame rain shower. “I didn’t see rain coming today, but the weather was great. It felt awesome out there. I felt good. I got a little sweat going on. I probably felt better tonight than I had in previous starts.”

Nola made way for José Alvarado in the eighth and Jeff Hoffman in the ninth. Hoffman pitched for the Rockies from 2016-20. He allowed a two-out double to Elias Díaz. The Rockies pinch-ran pitcher Kyle Freeland for Díaz because they had only one healthy player on the bench: backup catcher Jacob Stallings, whose sprint speed (23.5 feet per second) ranks in the bottom one percent of runners.

Brendan Rodgers and Jake Cave were sick and Kris Bryant has not played since Saturday because of a back issue.

Hoffman was pitching with a cut on his right thumb, which made it challenging to command the ball. He uncorked a wild pitch to send Freeland to third. One batter later, he threw another one, which hopped behind Realmuto.

Freeland raced home to score. Hoffman bolted home to cover.

Realmuto recovered the baseball and flipped it to Hoffman, whose tag beat Freeland’s foot.

“Option quarterback,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “All-State.”

Freeland and Hoffman got tangled up at the plate. Afterward, Freeland held onto his right shoulder, although he told Hoffman that he was fine. Hoffman got cut on his ankle.

“I wish baseball was more of a contact sport,” Hoffman said. "That was a crazy play for two pitchers to be involved in -- just a crazy play. He threw it in a perfect spot for me. I just slapped the tag on him as quick as I could. We both got there at the same time.”

“I knew it was close," Stott said. “You see the guy block his top leg. You’re just worried about the bottom leg that he’s sliding on because you can’t really see it. [Realmuto] got Hoffy the ball pretty quick. It was that type of collision where you don’t know if the glove ever touches him or where his legs and feet are. A pretty cool play.”

Replay officials confirmed the call. Freeland was out.

The Phillies just needed to score. They took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Trea Turner doubled and scored on Bryce Harper’s single to right. They had just three singles until Pache’s game-winning hit in the 10th.

“Balls are going to fall,” Stott said. “As long as you’re having good at-bats, there’s always a chance for a 15-run game. We just haven’t gotten there yet.”