Phillies, Braves open four-game NL East showdown
The Philadelphia Phillies appeared to be on the verge of a six-game losing streak.
Instead of another loss, the Phillies rallied from a 3-0 deficit in the eighth inning and defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 4-3 in 10 innings on Wednesday.
Thanks mostly to Matt Vierling.
Vierling hit a walk-off RBI single in the 10th and capped his first career five-hit game. J.T. Realmuto also ripped a solo homer, his 21st of the season.
The Phillies (81-67), who lead the Milwaukee Brewers by 2 1/2 games for the third wild-card spot in the National League, now open a huge four-game series at home against the Atlanta Braves on Thursday.
“It was a great win,” Vierling said in a postgame interview on NBC Sports Philadelphia. “The team needed it. We got some momentum.”
All five of Vierling’s hits were singles.
“I hit balls in good spots and they happened to fall,” Vierling said.
Even when the Phillies were struggling, they never gave up. Since interim manager Rob Thomson took over for Joe Girardi, that has been the team’s mantra.
“It’s par for the course for this group,” Thomson said. “They continue to fight.”
The Phillies will hand the ball to Ranger Suarez (9-5, 3.53 ERA) in the series opener. Last Friday, in Suarez’s most recent start against the Braves, he was stellar in six innings as he allowed two hits and one run.
He didn’t get a decision in that game, but Suarez is 1-2 with a 3.75 ERA in 14 career games (five starts) against the Braves.
Brandon Marsh (left knee contusion) was available to play if needed Wednesday and potentially could be back in the lineup against the Braves.
The Braves (93-56) could have moved into a tie for first place with the New York Mets in the National League East on Wednesday, but some sloppy baserunning helped lead to a 3-2 loss to the Washington Nationals.
The Braves are looking for their fifth straight NL East division title and enter Thursday’s contest one game behind the Mets and 11 1/2 games up in the NL wild-card race. They’re also aiming to repeat as World Champions and won’t let a tough loss to a bad team won’t faze them.
“It’s just a matter of continuing to win games,” Austin Riley said. “We’ve been here and we know what to expect.”
William Contreras got caught in between second and third in the eighth, which was a key play in the one-run defeat.
“Young guys have a hard time not putting the pedal to the metal all the time on the bases,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “It’s something they’ll learn.”
And continue to learn.
“It’s just when you’re playing close games, those are the things you can control,” Snitker said. “There’s so many things in this game you can’t control, but we can control our baserunning. It’s the awareness more than anything. We talk about it a lot.”
Max Fried (13-6, 2.52) is scheduled to start against the Phillies. In Fried’s most recent start, also against the Phillies, he gave up four hits and two runs in six innings but didn’t get a decision in the 7-2 Atlanta win.
Fried is 4-3 with a 3.88 ERA in 17 career games (11 starts) against the Phillies.
–Field Level Media