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October 22, 2022

What they're saying about the Phillies: There's only the game in front of you

With a potential five games in five days, Rob Thomson and the Phillies chose to focus on the game right in front of them

It's the day after. The Phillies have taken a 2-1 lead in the NLCS, but there's little time to breathe. 

They'll be right back at it Saturday against the Padres – Bailey Falter will get his first postseason start against San Diego's Mike Clevinger – and every single day after for as long as this series can go. 

Yet each day will bring with it tons of storylines, from game-changing heroics (and mishaps) to series-defining decisions to a stadium so loud your phone will consider it a threat to your ears. 

This is late-October baseball in Philadelphia, for the first time in 12 years. Welcome back. 

What they're saying about the Phils after Game 3...

Like there's no tomorrow

Ken Rosenthal | The Athletic ($)

In October, every decision is critical and made even trickier in this scenario with a potential five games in five days. 

On Friday night, manager Rob Thomson and his staff just went for it, looking to their best relievers to help take Game 3 even with full awareness that Game 4 on Saturday was going to be a bullpen day. 

You can plan, but in the end, there's only ever the game in front of you as Ken Rosenthal writes:

Never mind that Game 3 of the NLCS was the first of a possible five games in five days, a schedule that could wreck both teams’ bullpens. Thomson managed with an appropriate urgency Friday night, pulling Ranger Suárez for Eflin at the right time, then using his two best relievers, José Alvarado and Seranthony Dominguez, to get the final nine outs.

Dominguez, who worked only one major-league inning in 2020 and 2021 after undergoing Tommy John surgery and missed three weeks with triceps soreness late in the season, threw a season-high 34 pitches. He almost certainly will be unavailable for Game 4. No matter. Thomson made the calls necessary for the Phillies to win, 4-2, and take a two-games-to-one lead in the series.

“You never know about tomorrow,” Phillies pitching coach Caleb Cotham said. “We could score 20, I don’t know. Anything can happen. So if you’ve got one in your grasp, you want to do what you can with the guys you want to get it done with. Seranthony doing the six-out save is not exactly what we imagined. But it was impressive.” [The Athletic]

'Just here to pitch'

Alex Coffey | The Philadelphia Inquirer

That said, having one of your bullpen arms take on more is huge, and Seranthony Domínguez answered the call. 

He was brought in for the eighth and stayed for the ninth, pitching multiple innings for the first time in three years and recording the first six-out postseason save for the Phillies since Tug McGraw in the 1980 World Series. 

It was the first postseason save of his career too and gave the Phillies' bullpen a bit more to work with on Saturday for Game 4. 

Just what he's here to do. Wrote Alex Coffey:

Domínguez was born 14 years after McGraw recorded that six-out save. He didn’t watch it live, and he might not even know who McGraw was. But the beauty of this game is that a hard-throwing right-hander from Esperanza, a small province in the Dominican Republic, can be linked to a left-hander from central California who threw screwballs four decades earlier.

“I didn’t know that,” Domínguez said of his historic feat. “Thank you for telling me. It’s like I tell the guys before, I’m here just to pitch and to do my job. I’m out of the game when they say you’re out. When I’m still in the game, I’m going to try to get people out.”

The Phillies don’t have a traditional closer, but when Domínguez enters a game, he plans on finishing it. This season, Thomson has had him pitch four-out and five-out saves, but never a six-out save, until Friday night. With a bullpen game scheduled for Game 4 on Saturday, Thomson had to find a way to hold on to a tenuous two-run lead, while not exhausting his relief corps. [The Inquirer]

Did he go?

Now on to the most controversial moment of the night. 

With the Padres down to their last licks and a runner on, Jurickson Profar checked his swing on a full count and tried to sell the walk. The third base umpire saw it differently. He called strike three, which meant a huge first out for Domínguez and the Phillies. 

Profrar was livid and got tossed, Padres manager Bob Melvin sought an explanation, and the baseball world got talking over what exactly constitutes a check swing. 

It's about as close to a 50-50 call as you can get, but if you ask me, the barrel of the bat just gets in front of Profar hands on the replay. He went. 

Bigger picture, could this be the baseball version of 'Dez caught it'? We'll see. 

How did he hit that?

Codify Baseball / Jayson Stark | The Athletic ($)

No one had a more up and down then up again night than Jean Segura, but in the end, his ups won out. 

Despite a couple of defensive miscues and a pickoff right after the play, Segura's two-run single in the fourth put the Phillies ahead for good. 

But if you watch the at-bat, you'll probably ask yourself a question that only Vlad Guerrero Sr. ever made you wonder: How did he that?

Segura did almost the exact same thing a couple weeks ago back in St. Louis, which led to a different spin on the question for  The Athletic's Jayson Stark: How often does this happen, in the postseason no less?

I posed that question to my friend Mike Fisher of Codify baseball. He gathered all the pertinent data from Statcast’s David Adler, then searched through gazillians of postseason hits on pitches low and away in the 15 seasons baseball has kept track of this stuff.

OK, so are you ready for the Weird and Wild findings?

In the last 15 postseasons, Fisher reported, every other hitter in baseball combined for exactly one hit on a pitch that low and that far outside. (Jose Altuve got that one, but didn’t drive in a run, in the 2019 ALCS.)

But Jean Segura? He now has two hits on pitches like that, just in this postseason, both to drive in game-changing, series-turning runs. What? How even? [The Athletic]

I don't know, man...I don't know. 

'Maria, believe me, I like it loud'

How loud was Citizens Bank Park for Game 3?

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Late-October baseball in Philadelphia. Welcome back. 

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