Phils battle after Gibson allows 4 HRs, can't finish comeback

July 3rd, 2022

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies somehow weathered back-to-back-to-back-to-back home runs by the Cardinals in the first inning Saturday afternoon, but another shot in the ninth inning was simply too much to overcome at Citizens Bank Park.

Kyle Gibson was on the wrong end of four consecutive two-out homers in the first inning, and despite a pair of rallies, the Phillies ultimately dropped a 7-6 decision after Nolan Arenado -- who started the string of four straight homers in the first -- teed off for a go-ahead solo shot in the ninth.

For Gibson, he had never allowed four home runs in a single outing, let alone to four straight batters. Yet after quickly retiring the first two batters of the night, he allowed a base hit to Paul Goldschmidt then successive home runs to Arenado, Nolan Gorman, Juan Yepez and Dylan Carlson.

Arenado started the historic stretch by yanking a low-and-away slider for a home run that barely cleared the left-field wall. According to Statcast, it traveled a projected 354 feet and would have been a home run in only 12 of the 30 big league ballparks.

Gorman's was more of a no-doubter when Gibson left a cutter too far over the plate, but Yepez's was another wall-scraper. Similar to Arenado's blast, Yepez's solo shot went a projected 353 feet and would have left only 13 ballparks.

Carlson's homer -- a 407-foot laser on a sinker right over the middle of the plate -- was the only one of the four that would have been a home run in all 30 ballparks.

“Yepez and Nolan, both those pitches might not have even been called strikes -- they were sliders down and away pretty good,” said Gibson, who gave up five runs over a season-low 2 2/3 innings his last time out. “Unfortunately, they put really good swings on the ball. But that’s a tough first inning, and two starts in a row I’ve kind of put the team in a tough spot early in the game.”

Of the previous 10 teams to hit back-to-back-to-back-to-back home runs, only one team did so in a loss -- the 1961 Milwaukee Braves. Facing the Reds on June 8 that season, the Braves were trailing 10-2 in the seventh inning before Eddie Mathews, Hank Aaron, Joe Adcock and Frank Thomas each homered to trim the deficit to 10-7 in an eventual 10-8 loss.

In other words, no team has ever rallied from a deficit after serving up four consecutive home runs -- something the Phillies nearly pulled off in Saturday's wild back-and-forth affair.

Philadelphia plated two runs in the second and three in the third, with Yairo Muñoz's two-run double tying the game at 5.

Gibson managed to rebound from his disastrous first inning by not allowing a run in the second, third and fourth before loading the bases with nobody out in the fifth.

“I was awfully proud of him, to tell you the truth,” interim manager Rob Thomson said of Gibson. “Gives up four straight home runs and five runs in the first inning, I think a lot of guys would have shut it down right there, but he kept battling and gave us four innings and went into the fifth.”

Corey Knebel entered and promptly retired the first two batters before walking in a run. The Phils responded once again with Nick Castellanos recording a game-tying single just one inning later.

Philadelphia couldn't get over the hump, though, on a day when nearly everyone in the lineup contributed. Eight of the club's nine starters had either a hit or an RBI, with the lone exception being Kyle Schwarber, who went 0-for-5 with four strikeouts on the same day he was named the NL Player of the Month.

“These guys kept battling,” Thomson said. “Came back to tie it twice. Down 5-0, tie it 5-5, down 6-5 and tie it 6-6 -- just couldn’t seem to get the lead. But I’m awfully proud of the way they battled.”

The multiple comebacks all went for naught when Arenado -- who hit for the cycle Friday -- took Seranthony Domínguez deep to lead off the ninth.

“We got the game tied, kept tying it up and we just weren't able to take the lead,” Schwarber said. “It stinks, right? But I think it shows a lot about what the team's doing right now. We're doing a lot of good things.”