'Why not us?' Phils spoil Hader's bid at history in wild comeback

Bohm, Vierling hit two homers as Philadelphia improves to 4-0 under Thomson

June 8th, 2022

MILWAUKEE -- Nobody had beaten Josh Hader in almost a year.

Everybody in the Phillies’ dugout knew it.

Hader had not allowed a run since July 28, 2021. He had not blown a save since July 7, 2021. He had allowed only one extra-base hit this season, and just four hits in 19 appearances overall. He needed just one more scoreless outing to set an MLB record with 41 consecutive scoreless appearances.

But Hader still needed to get through Rob Thomson’s Phillies on Tuesday night at American Family Field.

“Somebody’s got to get him at some point, right?” Phillies third baseman Alec Bohm said, following a dramatic 3-2 comeback victory. “Why not us, I guess? Nobody is perfect in this game.”

Bohm smashed a 1-1 fastball to left-center field for a game-tying home run to start the ninth. It was the first homer Hader had allowed since July 28. A batter later, Matt Vierling then hit a 1-2 slider to left for a go-ahead home run.

It continued Philadelphia’s wild week. Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski dismissed former manager Joe Girardi on Friday morning. He named Thomson his replacement. The Phillies beat the Angels on Friday, 10-0. They won on Saturday, 7-2. They won on Sunday, 9-7, with Bryce Harper hitting a game-tying grand slam in the eighth and Bryson Stott hitting a three-run, walk-off home run in the ninth.

Then they got Hader.

“You talk about the best closers in the game,” Bohm said. “He’s, obviously, at the top of the conversation, but that’s not any reason to go up there thinking that you’re already out. Just going up there -- knowing that he’s got good stuff and everything like that -- I’ve just got to get the barrel to one pitch. I’m really not thinking homer or anything like that, but, with stuff like that, sometimes you just touch it, it goes. It’s really all I was trying to do.”

Bohm snapped a 1-for-28 skid on Sunday with three hits and a walk. His ninth-inning single led to Stott’s walk-off homer, putting a difficult Saturday behind him. Bohm cut himself when his bat recoiled as he bashed the bat rack following a strikeout.

He was hitless in his first three at-bats Tuesday when he stepped into the batter’s box in the ninth. Bohm had faced Hader only once before. He flew out to the warning track in right field to end a 1-0 loss on April 24 at Citizens Bank Park. He hit a fastball down the middle, which was too close for comfort for Hader. He did not want to elevate a pitch to Bohm again.

Hader elevated it.

“Nick [Castellanos] faced him a bit in his career,” Bohm said. “He told me, 'Hey, you’ve got to try and pull him.' That’s not something I really normally do.”

Bohm pulled him.

Vierling experiences career highlight
Vierling got recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Tuesday because Zack Wheeler is on the paternity list. Vierling and Scott Kingery flew from Omaha to Chicago in the morning. They took a car to Milwaukee, pulling into the ballpark around 2 p.m.

What a journey.

The Phillies announced Vierling would be one of their center fielders on the first day of Spring Training in March. He opened the season with the team, but he struggled. He got optioned to Lehigh Valley on May 11.

Vierling pinch-hit for Mickey Moniak in the ninth. It was his first at-bat in the Major Leagues since May 10.

Hader suspected that Vierling was looking for a slider on that 1-2 pitch because he threw him two already. Hader also thought he noticed Vierling move up in the box, which allowed him to get the barrel out on the ball.

“It wasn’t a putaway pitch,” Hader said.

Instead, it was gone.

“Didn't come in here with any expectations of trying to do that or whatever, and it just kind of happened,” Vierling explained. “Pretty cool.”

Vierling called it the highlight of his career.

“It’s probably number one,” he said.

Together, the Phillies improved to 4-0 under Thomson.

“It’s a loose group of guys that’s just playing together and having fun,” Bohm said. “Guys aren’t worried about their stats. Guys aren’t trying to do this or that. Everybody is just playing together, trying to win. I think we’re just having a lot of fun. Everybody is kind of coming together. With all the talent we have, it’s hard to say the luck we were having wasn’t going to turn. We just kept at it, kept working, put our heads down and kept fighting. And now we’re seeing a little of reward from it.”