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July 12, 2023

Phillies reflect on first half of season after strong All-Star showing

On a night in Seattle that assembled baseball's biggest stars, the Phillies were among the ones who shined the brightest.

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USATSI_21025289.jpg Stephen Brashear/USA TODAY Sports

Phillies closer Craig Kimbrel with a fist pump after recording the save at the MLB All-Star Game to end an 11-year drought for the National League.

Nick Castellanos played centerfield for the first time in his career – first time in his life, even – Craig Kimbrel, in his ninth midsummer classic, notched the save, and Rob Thomson managed the National League's first win at the MLB All-Star Game in 11 years. 

On a night in Seattle that assembled baseball's biggest stars, the Phillies were among the ones who shined the brightest in the NL's 3-2 victory. 

Thomson subbed Castellanos in at center in the fifth. A fly ball never came his way to test him out, and while he won't exactly be kicking the door down to get another shot at it once the season resumes, it was definitely an experience – the type only the All-Star Game ever really allows for. 

“I mean, I’m not going to be vocally lobbying to play center field,” Castellanos told The Inquirer's Alex Coffey. “If they ever ask me to do it, I’m too much of a kid to say no. But I am proud of myself that...if people would’ve seen me play third base in the big leagues, try to learn to play right field, what everybody has said about my defense, I can now say I’ve played center field in a major league baseball game. And I’m proud of that.”

At the plate, Castellanos went 1-for-2, striking out in the sixth, singling in the ninth, and working a nine-pitch walk out of Baltimore's hard-throwing Félix Bautista in the eighth to set up the go-ahead homer from Colorado's Elías Díaz in the next at-bat. 

That set the stage for Kimbrel to come in and close it out

The veteran reliever got Tampa Bay's Wander Franco to fly out, took Toronto's Vladimir Guerrero Jr. down on three pitches, then – after back-to-back walks to Houston's Kyle Tucker and Seattle's homegrown hero Julio Rodríguez made things dicey – got Cleveland's José Ramírez to go down swinging for the third out, the NL win, and Kimbrel's first-ever All-Star Game save. 

It was another milestone in a 14-year career already full of them, especially this season after crossing the 400-save plateau

"This year's been something else," Kimbrel told FOX Sports postgame. "The milestones I've been able to get close to and surpass, the support I've had from my teammates, they've all been so excited for me, rooting me on all year long, I gotta pinch myself. Seems like it's one thing after another this year. Hopefully I can just keep on going, enjoy my two days, and hopefully the Phillies, we can get on a good roll and play good baseball for the rest of the year."

Some other Phillies All-Star Game notes...

• Thomson and pitching coach Caleb Cotham brought some elite heat out for Tuesday night.

• Here's Castellanos breaking down what makes Scooby Doo a superhero and his favorite one:

• Lastly, during the All-Star Game's annual pause for MLB's Stand Up To Cancer initiative, Thomson stood in front of the NL dugout with the name of Corey Phelan written on his sign. Phelan was a pitcher in the Phillies' minor-league system but passed away in October at 20 years old after a battle with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

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