2022 World Series: The underdog Phillies are covering their flaws with home runs during emphatic playoff run

PHILADELPHIA – It was an intense show, huh?

In the first World Series game in Philadelphia since 2009, the Phillies stunned their home fans with a home run that hit five homers off Astros starter Lance McCullers Jr., making him the first pitcher in World Series history to hit that many balls. get in one game. It started with Bryce Harper in the first inning, continued with Alec Bohm and Brandon Marsh in the second, and then Kyle Schwarber and Rhys Hoskins dropped the hammer with back-to-back jacks in the fifth.

Along the way, an electric group of Phillies fans were having the time of their lives together at Citizens Bank Park.

The final score was 7-0 and the Phillies were now in the driver’s seat to win the World Series 2-1.

I couldn’t help but think back to the sentiment I offered several times in August in my weekly rankings: The Phillies have the most strikeout variance of any opponent — so much so that it wouldn’t surprise me if they win the World Series or lose something like 12 straight games and miss the playoffs.

They lost 10 of 13 in mid-September and flirted with missing the postseason. And now, they are just two games away from winning it all.

I also couldn’t help but think that they signed two big bats that most people believed should be moved to the DH position in March.

They reportedly agreed to terms with Kyle Schwarber on March 16. Of course he will DH, we thought. On March 19, it was Nick Castellanos. Well, maybe they’ll take turns. To be clear, first baseman Rhys Hoskins probably profiles as a DH. By the way, I loved it and mentioned it several times in the power rankings. If there’s no way to make it an all-around club, just accept the boom-or-bust in the lineup and take the two available sluggers. There’s no reason to run away from who you are, and the Phillies have embraced it.

Meanwhile, earlier in the season, it was revealed that Bryce Harper had a torn UCL, leading to Tommy John surgery on the pitcher. He can still hit, but he can’t throw. Therefore, he has to DH. That meant the Phillies would field a lineup with three DH types.

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This is a flawed team. They rate very low in most defensive metrics (except to note that Gold Glove catcher JT Realmuto is exceptional). They can run pretty cold at times (look at their losing streak that first fired Joe Girardi and later threatened to keep them out of the playoffs). Obviously, the “bust” part in boom-or-bust means you have to take the bad with the good.

Well, very well, though. They swing and it’s beautiful to see. We’ve seen it throughout the playoffs as Schwarber, Harper, Realmuto and Hoskins have all come up with a bunch of extra-base hits. Castellanos didn’t hit at all, but he actually had two big hits in the World Series — possibly saving Game 1 and then setting the tone for Jose Altuve’s leadoff hit in Game 3. Supporting cast members such as Bohm, Marsh and Bryson Stott fit right in. Jean Segura grinds out the at-bats.

“We’re all talking about our top crew, right?” Harper said. “But at the bottom of our lineup, our rookies, and we call them our daycare, right? They’ve been showing up for us all year. It’s been fun to watch. It’s another young man and another young man and another young man. Marsh today is a great day. Bryson I thought made some really good moves and then got to the end of our lineup as well.”

Hoskins said it’s “contagious” how the groups feed off each other. “It’s kind of fun, right?” he said. “We’ve had a lot of fun lately. Obviously, we’re there. I think seeing a lot of different guys get in on the action makes us proud.”

“I think all year we kind of knew what we had and we felt good about our team and we know everywhere you look at our roster we have some really good players and some experience.” said Bom. “So we have to be confident. I think the more you put yourself out there in those situations, I think confidence grows naturally.”

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This is a fun group to watch as a spectator. Of course, when they are in one of their heats, it must be incredibly annoying to watch from the opposite side.

“Anyway you put a run on the board, there’s pressure,” Castellanos said, noting that their big comeback in Game 1 of the Wildcat Series came via small ball. “Traffic is pressure. Home runs are pressure, too. They know that anybody in our batting order can hit a home run at any moment. That’s pressure.”

“I think what’s more impressive to me is just the at-bats and how guys don’t try to go out there and just hit homers,” Bohm said. “We’re hitters. Guys have been working on shots. Guys get singles the other way. And sometimes they make mistakes and we get them.

“But I think it’s just a team effort. And just having good muscles and trying to move and get the next guys up and set him up for success. You look back and, well, Schwarber hit a 450-footer. , you know. Bryce is coming in now. You know, it’s a deep lineup. So I think when we get some momentum and guys lean on each other, that’s kind of the thing.”

As for those on the opposite side, the Phillies have been Kingslayers this season. They were heavily pressured in three of the four series and came up short against the Padres. They took on the NL Central champion Cardinals before dispatching the NL East champion, 101-game winner and defending World Series champion Braves. Now they have the Astros on the ropes.

This is an Astros team that has won four of the last six AL pennants. Houston won 106 games with a +219 game differential during the regular season. The team also swept the AL side of the playoffs, beating the Mariners in three games before the 99-win Yankees in four games. This is a deep team that was firing on all cylinders and well rested. Before the series began, it could be argued that the Astros lacked slack. At least not an obvious one.

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In the title of the series, one of the stories was a comparison of the two. It was the largest difference in regular season wins between the two fighters (106 vs. 87) since 1906. It was David and Goliath. When the Astros took a 5-0 lead in Game 1, I literally thought to myself, “uh oh.” I’ve always rooted for seven games with dramatic goals, and at that point I was worried it was going to be a letdown.

Instead, the Astros erased a five-run deficit in Game 1, a World Series feat that hadn’t happened since 2002. And they just beat the Astros in Game 3 here.

The flaw is standing toe to toe with titanium. In Philadelphia. Hmmm. Sounds like Rocky Balboa, doesn’t it? A unique story in Philadelphia. Of course, he didn’t win the title until Rocky II, but maybe, just maybe, these bad guys are here to get the job done on their first try.

The Phillies also know that the war is far from over.

“Those guys are a good team,” Hoskins said. “Because they’ve been known as the best team in baseball for a number of years. They’ve got good players and good arms, so we’ve got our work cut out for us for sure, but we’re definitely going to enjoy it. Tonight and about talk about what was right for us. We talk about what we can do for tomorrow and get it tomorrow.”

They would go on to take a 2-1 series lead. They accepted their evil nature from the beginning. They took their plots in the half-season plots. They now have an 11-3 postseason record. Two more wins before three losses and they have rings.

They will last forever, flawed team or not.


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