Domínguez's 6-out save nails down Phillies' tense Game 3 win

October 22nd, 2022

PHILADELPHIA -- Seranthony Domínguez exited the Phillies' bullpen with a runner on first and no outs in the eighth inning Friday night at Citizens Bank Park.

No Phillies pitcher had recorded a six-out save in the postseason since Tug McGraw in Game 6 of the 1980 World Series, when they clinched the first championship in franchise history. McGraw’s moment happened 42 years ago Friday, so maybe it was time for another one. Ya gotta believe, right? Well, Domínguez followed McGraw’s path and helped the Phils lock down a 4-2 victory over the Padres in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

“I was just thinking about finishing it,” Domínguez said. “I’m out of the game when they say I’m out. When I’m still in the game, I’m going to try to get people out.”

McGraw had nothing left in the tank when he sneaked a 1-2 fastball past Royals leadoff hitter Willie Wilson. Domínguez never looked better when he struck out Austin Nola on a 1-2 slider to end Game 3.

Each had their own way. Each time the Phillies won.

“Incredible,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “Ever since we started the playoffs, he’s been locked in. He’s pitched in the biggest parts of the game and done a great job. The moment doesn’t get to him.”

Nothing seems to get to these Phillies, though, even when things go sideways. Kyle Schwarber hit a leadoff home run to right-center field in the first inning to give the Phils a 1-0 lead. It happened shortly after he caught the ceremonial first pitch from Matt Stairs. Schwarber’s mammoth home run in Game 1 at Petco Park reminded everybody of Stairs’ homer in Game 4 of the 2008 NLCS at Dodger Stadium.

It seemed too perfect.

“Same number, lefty hitters, bigger, burly guys, I guess,” Schwarber said. “It’s cool.”

But then Jean Segura committed an error in the fourth inning that led to the Padres’ first run to tie the game. Segura made up for the miscue with a two-out single in the bottom of the fourth that scored two runs to make it 3-1, but then Rhys Hoskins’ error in the fifth led to another run to make it 3-2.

The Phillies pulled left-hander Ranger Suárez from the game after five innings and just 68 pitches.

Fans were on edge.

Because as well as this bullpen has pitched this postseason, there is still the scar tissue from the past. Fortunately, Thomson does not live in the past. He believed Zach Eflin, José Alvarado and Domínguez could record the game’s final 12 outs without incident.

Eflin had runners on the corners with one out in the sixth when Segura started a huge 4-6-3 inning-ending double play. Alvarado threw one-plus scoreless innings.

The Phillies’ bullpen was doing it.

They just needed six more outs.

“That’s the difference between this season and seasons past for me,” Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto said. “We have guys we can rely on back there. And when we get a lead late in the game, we have a lot of confidence in the guys. Once we got to the seventh, I was pretty sure that we were going to get those three innings with just those two guys.”

Domínguez entered the eighth with a runner on first and no outs. He retired the side. He allowed a leadoff single to Josh Bell in the ninth. Domínguez got Jurickson Profar on a controversial check-swing strikeout for the first out. Trent Grisham popped out to shortstop and Nola struck out swinging to end the game.

Domínguez has retired 20 of the 22 batters he has faced this postseason. He has struck out 13 and allowed just two hits and no walks in his 6 2/3 innings.

“I’m very happy to see Seranthony Domínguez in that moment,” Alvarado said. “With that arm and the rest of us in the bullpen, man, we’ve got a lot of stuff. Let’s go compete. Let’s enjoy every opportunity.”

“He’s nasty,” Alec Bohm said. “You see him jogging out from the ’pen, you feel pretty good.”

It is anybody’s guess how Thomson will work his bullpen in Game 4 on Saturday. Left-hander Bailey Falter will pitch for the first time since Oct. 5. The Phillies hope he can get through the lineup once. Domínguez probably will not be available after throwing 34 pitches in Game 3, although he has not been ruled out. Alvarado threw 27 pitches, which he said is nothing to him. He will pitch, if needed.

The Phillies went for the win on Friday. They will figure out Saturday when Saturday comes.

Game 3 was important: In all best-of-seven postseason series tied 1-1, the Game 3 winner has won the series 67 of 97 times (69%).

“We’ve had three awesome arms in this bullpen who have been asked before to get multiple outs,” Hoskins said. “Those guys are working so well in tandem. I wasn’t surprised we were able to find a way to get the final 12 outs with three guys.”