The Philadelphia Phillies appeared to be fading slowly out of the playoff race until J.T. Realmuto saved the season.
At least for now.
Realmuto’s two-run, walk-off triple with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning propelled the Phillies to a 3-2 win over the visiting Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday.
The Phillies will now look for the series victory when they wrap up the three-game set against the Orioles on Wednesday.
Philadelphia (77-74) remains three games behind the first-place Atlanta Braves (79-70) in the National League East. The Phillies haven’t reached the postseason since 2011, the longest active playoff drought among National League teams.
“Sometimes we put a little too much pressure on ourselves and try to do too much,” Realmuto said on a postgame interview on NBC Sports Philadelphia.
Philadelphia manager Joe Girardi has repeatedly said the team has continued to work hard every day, even through the frustrating losses.
“When you think of all the work you’ve put in to get to this point, to have an opportunity to get into the playoffs, to be relevant in your division, it’s fun,” Girardi said. “It really starts the day after last year’s season. You start planning. You start working. Players start doing things.
“This is what it is all about. All that stuff you did in November and December, January and February, this is what it is all about. We’re fortunate to be in this position. So you have to take advantage of it.”
The Phillies will hand the ball Wednesday to Zack Wheeler (14-9, 2.83 ERA). The right-handed All-Star is 1-0 with a 2.04 ERA in his three career starts against the Orioles.
In his past four starts overall, Wheeler is 4-0 with a 2.28 ERA.
“Finish strong,” Wheeler said. “Especially where we’re at. Just finish strong and hopefully we can make that playoff push.”
The Orioles (48-103) nearly captured their second straight win when they went ahead 2-1 in the top of the 10th inning Tuesday.
It has been a frustrating season filled with maddening losses, and this was no different, but the effort can’t be questioned.
“It’s a really good team with a really big payroll, got a ton of veteran players,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said, referring to the Phillies. “I think we’re playing like we’ve got nothing to lose, like we should, but we’re playing postseason-type rosters. We’re very, very inexperienced.”
Keegan Akin (2-10, 6.93 ERA) is scheduled to start Wednesday for the Orioles. The rookie left-hander has never faced the Phillies.
While Akin’s record and ERA are below average, he is getting some much-needed experience along with a number of other Baltimore pitchers.
“You want to go out there and go six, seven, eight innings almost every outing,” Akin said. “Obviously, it’s a lot harder to do that than it is to say to do it.”
Baltimore center fielder Cedric Mullins, who had two hits on Tuesday, needs one more home run to reach 30 for the season. If Mullins accomplishes the feat, he would become the first player in franchise history to post 30 homers and 30 stolen bases in a single season.
“Cedric has obviously had a great year,” Hyde said. “He continues to be impressive in so many ways.”
–Field Level Media