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15 Jun 2024

Red October in June

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June 15, 2024 Category: Sports Posted by:

In a playoff-charged atmosphere, Phillies gut out a tough win over Baltimore

By Chris Murray
For the Philadelphia Sunday SUN

BALTIMORE — In front of a sellout crowd at Oriole Park at Camden Yards Friday night, the series opener between arguably two of the best teams in Major League Baseball — the Philadelphia Phillies and the Baltimore Orioles — had more in common with a postseason game in October than one played during the regular-season in mid-June.

In a sea of Orioles orange and Phillies red in the stands, fans of both teams dueled each to see who could be louder. Thanks to a large throng of fans from the City of Brotherly Love, the shouting match was a draw for the first nine innings.

But in the end, Phillies fans would end up making the loudest noise as the Phillies toughed out a 5-3 win over the Orioles in 11 innings thanks to third baseman Alec Bohm’s RBI double in the 11th that scored Whit Merrifield and Bryce Harper.

In a game that had just about everything including solid pitching, clutch hitting, and bang-bang plays decided by replay, excitement was high. Not even a one hour and 11-minute rain delay could put a damper on the excitement this game generated.

“The atmosphere was tremendous,” said Phillies manager Rob Thomson. “It was a great game that went back and forth. It was really good. It was like a playoff game.”

After the game, Bohm said the cheering of both fans, especially from Phillies fans, reminded him of playing in October.

“It was loud, it was red, it was a lot of fun, it was a really cool environment” Bohm said. “You can definitely say (it was a playoff environment). It’s June. It was definitely loud. The crowd was really into it …It definitely compares to a playoff crowd for sure.”

Phillies designated hitter Kyle Schwarber led off the game with a home run off Orioles starting pitcher Kyle Bradish. Baltimore tied the game in the bottom of the third on an RBI double by O’s designated hitter Adley Rutschman that scored Mullins, who doubled to open the inning and went to third on a flyout by third baseman Jordan Westburg.

In the top of the fifth, the Phillies took a 2-1 lead on a solo homer to right by backup catcher Rafael Marchand for his first homer of the season. The game was knotted up in a 2-2 tie after the first nine innings thanks to Orioles right fielder Anthony Santander’s home run off of Matt Strahm, one of the bullpen’s most reliable arms.

In the top of the 10th inning, the Phillies took a 3-2 lead on an RBI single by Kyle Schwarber that scored shortstop Edmundo Sosa. In the same sequence, Jorge Rojas, who came into the game as a pinch runner for David Dahl, was thrown out on a close play at the plate thanks to a brilliant throw by Orioles right fielder Anthony Santander.

The Phillies challenged the call via replay, but the call was upheld. The replay accurately showed that Orioles catcher James McCann’s tag on Rojas came inches before he touched plate.

With the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the 10th, the Orioles tied the game when centerfielder Cedric Mullins scored on a wild pitch by Phillies reliever Orion Kerkering that bounced off the brick backstop and into the hands of Phillies catcher Rafael Marchan, who made a diving tag on the Orioles centerfielder.

“I slipped a little bit after I caught the ball, but that’s baseball. Those things are going to happen,” Marchan said. “I’m just glad we came back and won the game.”

On the wild pitch, Marchan said he called for Kerkering to throw a slider, but the pitch was a fastball which explains why the ball ended in Marchan’s hand and was just ended few inches short of ending the game in 10th inning.

Home plate umpire Charlie Ramos initially called Mullins out. Baltimore challenged the call and it was successfully overturned. The replay cameras showed that Mullins beat the tag by inches.

Seranthony Dominguez got the save for the Phillies by retiring all three Baltimore batters he faced in the bottom of the 11th . Orion Kerkering got the win for the Phillies despite the wild pitch that tied the game in 10th.

Lost in shuffle were Orioles pitcher Kyle Bradish and Phillies starter Ranger Suarez, Major League Baseball’s leader in wins. Both pitched well enough to get the win, but neither figured in the decision.

While Suarez wasn’t his usual dominant self, he was good enough. He had just one inning when he retired all three batters in order. He allowed just one run on six hits in six and two-thirds inning on the mound. He finished the game with six strikeouts. But every time the Orioles had runners on base, Suarez found ways to minimize the damage.

“I thought (Suarez) was really great,” Thomson said. “His fastball was at 93, 94 (miles-per-hour). I thought he had his best changeup of the year. He got a lot of swings and misses. He had great poise in a playoff-type atmosphere.”

In the fourth inning, Suarez gave up a lead-off double to Orioles center fielder Cedric Mullins, who reached third after Baltimore third baseman Jordan Westburg flied out to right. But O’s designated hitter Adley Rutschman doubled to left to score Mullins to tie the game at 1-1.
After allowing the double, Suarez then struck out Ryan Mountcastle and Gunnar Henderson to end the Baltimore threat to leave Rutschman stranded at second.

In the fourth inning, Santander and Austin both reached on singles. But Suarez got the next three outs. First came out when Orioles second baseman Jorge Mateo tried to lay bunt that was quickly picked up by Marchan who forced Santander out at third.

Suarez shut down the Birds in the fourth by getting catcher James McCann to bounce into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.

“It’s time to move on to the next batter,” Suarez said through team interpreter Diego D’Aniello Perez. “It was my time to focus on getting the next batter out. That helped me to stay calm and that always helps me to stay in the game.”

Outside of the two homers, Bradish allowed just three hits and had four strikeouts in five innings on the mound. He left in the fifth inning due to concerns about his elbow. Bradish returned to play six weeks ago after being sidelined with a sprained ulna collateral ligament.

The series between the Orioles and Phillies continues on Saturday at 4p.m. The Phillies will send Taijuan Walker (3-1, 5:40 era) to the mound to take on Grayson Rodriguez of the Orioles (7-2, 3.27 era). To find out if it’s as exciting as Friday night’s game, you can catch the game on NBC Sports Philadelphia, beginning at 4:05pm.

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